The Registrar, Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Ishaq Oloyede, has said that parents would no longer be allowed to choose courses for their children living with disabilities seeking admissions into tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
Mr Oloyede, a professor, was reacting to the comment by the National President, National Association of Visually Impaired, Stanley Onyebuchi, at the First National Conference On Equal Opportunity of Access to Higher Education in Nigeria.
The onference, which began in Abuja on Monday, was organised by JAMB’s Equal Opportunity Group, led by Peter Okebukola, a professor.
The event also featured the unveiling of the Strategic Roadmap for Inclusive Access to Quality Higher Education in Nigeria 2024-2028.
“The case of the 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,” JAMB Registrar Oloyede said.
“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.”
In his opening address, Mr Oloyede said JAMB was ready not only to facilitate access but also ensuring equity as special arrangement had been made for inclusivity of PWDs to acquire tertiary education.
The National President, National Association of Visually Impaired, Mr Onyebuchi, had complained that some members of his association were rejected by some tertiary institutions in their choice courses.
Mr Onyebuchi said when PWDs sought admissions in tertiary institutions, some of the institutions castigated them by saying they were not meant to be in their institutions.
He added that the economic hardship occasioned by the removal of fuel subsidy had taken a toll on his members as many had difficulty continuing their education.
“I want the National Universities Commission (NUC) and the Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities to take note of our complaints.
” 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 tuition fees, that has discouraged our members from going back to school. I want to suggest 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 a good working environment, saying PWDs most times lacked some assisting devices that would make them work effectively.
Declaring the JAMB conference open, the Minister of Education, Tahir Mamman, said the federal government was paying attention to ensure that every member of the society have equal access to education.
Mr Mamman, a professor, said equal opportunity to higher education must begin with inclusivity while calling on tertiary institutions to up their commitments to inclusive access for PWDs.
“We must work by focusing on accessible learning environment where physical appropriate environment is needed and inclusive curriculum for all students,” the minister said.
“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, House of Representatives Committee on Disability, Bashiru Daudu, said the house would soon commence raising awareness on the disability Act 2018.
Mr Daudu said 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, Ahmad Kaita, pledged to explore innovative funding to ensure all Nigerians have equal opportunity to higher education.
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