The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) has announced a policy, barring parents from choosing preferred courses for their children, especially those living with disabilities, seeking admissions into tertiary institutions.
JAMB’s Registrar, Isqau Oloyede broke the information while reacting to the comment by the National President, the National Association of Visually Impaired Students, headed by Stanley Onyebuchi at the First Conference of JAMB Equal Opportunity Group (JEOG) in Abuja Monday.
The Conference has as its theme: ”Towards Increasing Equal Opportunity of Access to Higher Education in Nigeria”.
The programme also featured the unveiling of the Strategic Roadmap for Inclusive Access to Quality Higher Education in Nigeria 2024-2028.
“There was a case of a student that wanted to study law, it was her stepfather that said he cannot allow her to go as far as Calabar to study law but asked that she be enrolled in Kaduna State University.
“This is because the course she showed interest in was not available at the university but the father asked that she study special education.
“We have now taken a decision that henceforth, just like with regular admissions, no parent will be allowed to have a say in the admission choice of candidates with disabilities,” he said.
In his opening address, Oloyede said that the board was ready not only to facilitate access but ensure equity as special arrangements had been made for inclusivity of PWDs to acquire tertiary education.
Meanwhile, the National President, National Association of Visually Impaired, Stanley Onyebuchi had said that some of their members faced some sorts of rejection from tertiary institutions in the areas of their choice courses.
Onyebuchi said when PWDs sought for admissions in tertiary institutions, some of the institutions castigated them saying they were not meant to be in 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.
“I want the National Universities Commission (NUC) and the Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities to take note of our predicaments.
”If it means a sensitisation visit, we don’t mind going round because for us, the visually impaired persons, education is key to our success, anything that will hinder us from achieving this we will not take it.
“Also with the increment in the tuition fees, that has discouraged our members from going back to school. I want to suggest that since the government want our children to be out of the streets, there should be free education for all persons with disabilities in all the tertiary institutions,” he said.
He, therefore, advocated for a good working environment saying that PWDs most times lacked some assisting devices that would make them work effectively.
Declaring the Conference open, the Minister of Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman, said the Federal government was paying attention to ensure that every member of the society have equal access to education.
Mamman said that equal opportunity to higher education must begin with inclusivity while calling on tertiary institutions, their communities on inclusive access for PWDs.
“We must work by focusing on an accessible learning environment where physical appropriate environment is needed and an inclusive curriculum for all students.
“Support services should be readily available in the institutions, faculty and staff training who will be sensitive to the need of the diversity must be put into consideration.
“All information from application processes in the format that will suite the PWDs must also be ensured,” he said.
The Ministry however promised to continue in the delivery of President Bola Tinubu’s mandates by focusing on policies that promote inclusivity and unity.
In the same vein, the Chairman,of the House of Representatives Committee on Disability, Dr Bashiru Daudu said the house would soon commence raising awareness on the Disability Act 2018.
Daudu said that the committee would start implementation of the act in January 2024 saying this would address the needs of PWDs in the country.
Also, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFund, Senator Ahmad Kaita, pledged to explore innovative funding to ensure all Nigerians have equal opportunity to higher education.