The National Universities Commission (NUC), has expressed its readiness to introduce courses and programmes that will deepen Nigeria’s capacity to provide equal opportunities for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs).
The Acting Executive Secretary of NUC, Chris Maiyaki stated this during the maiden National Conference on Equal Opportunity of Access to Higher Education in Nigeria, organized by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB).
He said as higher education providers, which includes the 269 Universities in the Nigerian University System (NUS), there is the need to pay special attention to the challenges faced by students with disabilities on campuses.
“It is pertinent to ensure that adequate and accessible infrastructure is provided to support them.
“Including putting in place measures to cater for their easy access to classrooms, laboratories, libraries, hostels, washrooms, dining halls and sports/recreational facilities. In addition to access to financial support for their overall wellbeing,” Maiyaki said.
According to him, where necessary, decisions arising from the Conference requiring the review of curricula would be given the needed attention by the Commission as part of efforts to continually update and develop globally acceptable minimum academic standards for effective delivery of university education in Nigeria.
He added that available statistics indicate that there are over 27 million Nigerians living with one form of disability or the other who deserves inclusivity, especially in the education sector, which is in consonance with the UNESCO Convention Against Discrimination in Education (CADE 1960).
“I commend JAMB for this innovation and I hope that it will be sustained in order to realise its set objectives,” he said.
In his opening address, the Registrar of JAMB, Professor Ishaq Oloyede, said the Board was ready to facilitate access and ensure equity, noting special arrangement had been made for inclusivity of PWDs to acquire tertiary education.
“We have now taken a decision that henceforth, just like with regular admissions, no parent or institution will be allowed to have a say in the admission choice of candidates with disabilities,” he said.
The National President, National Association of Visually Impaired, Stanley Onyebuchi said that some of their members faced some sorts of rejection from tertiary institutions in the areas of their choice courses, calling for necessary actions.
“If it means a sensitisation visit, we don’t mind going round,” he said.
The Minister of Education in Nigeria, Prof. Tahir Mamman, while declaring the Conference open, said the federal government has been working to ensure that members of the society have equal access to education, especially people living with disabilities including those in tertiary institutions.
“We advocate that support services should be readily available in the institutions, faculty and staff training who will be sensitive to the need of the diversity,” he said.
“All information from application processes in the format that will suite the PWDs must also be ensured,” he added.