The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) has unveiled a five-year strategic roadmap for inclusive access to quality higher education in Nigeria – 2024-2028.
Available statistics indicate that there are over 27 million Nigerians living with one form of disability or the other, including visual, hearing, physical, intellectual, and communication impairment, with stakeholders expressing worry about scant attention being given to the education their education in the country.
In his opening remark at the First Conference of JAMB Equal Opportunity Group (JEOG) in Abuja, Oloyede said the board was ready not only to facilitate access but also to ensure equity as special arrangements had been made for inclusivity of people living with disabilities to acquire tertiary education.
He also frowns at the circumstances where parents choose courses for their children living with disabilities who are seeking admission into tertiary institutions.
While reacting to the comment by the National President National Association of Visually Impaired, Stanley Onyebuchi, Oloyede warned that the Board would no longer condone such a practice, which in most cases leads to denial of candidates’ opportunities to pursue their dreams.
The Conference has the theme:” Towards Increasing Equal Opportunity of Access to Higher Education in Nigeria”.
JAMB said in the case of the student who wanted to study law, her stepfather said he could not allow her to go as far as Calabar to study law but asked that she be enrolled in Kaduna State University.
On his part, the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, Chris Maiyaki, expressed the Commission’s readiness to introduce Courses and programmes that would deepen national capacity towards meeting the noble objectives of providing equal opportunities for persons with disabilities.
According to him, available statistics indicate that there are over 27 million Nigerians living with one form of disability or the other. These types of disabilities include visual, hearing, physical, intellectual, and communication impairment.
The National Policy on Education provides for inclusive education for all Nigerians. The Policy clearly stipulates that “persons with disabilities should be educated in regular schools along with their non-disabled peers.
The theme of this Conference is, therefore, very apt as it is in consonance with the UNESCO Convention Against Discrimination in Education (CADE 1960) which defines education as “all types and levels of education, the standard and quality of education and the conditions under which it is given.
Meanwhile, the National President of the National Association of Visually Impaired, Stanley Onyebuchi, had said that some of their members faced some sort of rejection from tertiary institutions in the areas of their choice courses.
Onyebuchi said when PWDs sought admission to tertiary institutions, some of the institutions castigated them, saying they were not meant to be their institution.
He added that the economic hardship occasioned by the removal of fuel subsidy had taken a toll on its members as many of them no longer continued their education.
Declaring the Conference open, the Minister of Education, Prof Tahir Mamman, said the Federal government was paying attention to ensuring that every society member has equal access to education.
Mamman said that equal opportunity to higher education must begin with inclusivity while calling on tertiary institutions and their communities on inclusive access for PWDs.
He said everyone must work by focusing on an accessible learning environment where physically appropriate environment is needed and an inclusive curriculum for all students.
The Ministry, however, promised to continue in the delivery of President Bola Tinubu’s mandates by focusing on policies that promote inclusivity and unity.