The dictation mode of the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination ( UTME ) is causing the performance of blind candidates to drop, a school administrator, Mrs Chioma Ohakwe, has said.
Ohakwe, Proprietress, Bethesda Home for the Blind, Mushin, Lagos, said on Sunday that the use of Braillenote Apex machines for administration of UTME to the blind was preferred.
Ohakwe spoke to our correspondent in Lagos.
“We have carefully looked at all the variables surrounding the administration of this examination through the dictation mode, and we discovered that they (blind candidates) prefer the Braillenote Apex machine.
“We also discovered that since the introduction of the dictation mode, the performance of the candidates have been dropping.
“Those concerned need to reconsider the administration of UTME through the machine as it gives the candidates a freehand to listen carefully, comprehend questions and choose answers.
“With the machine, it is expected that each candidate is self-reliant and writes what he or she knows,” Ohakwe said.
She told us that, with the dictation mode, many blind candidates complained after UTME that examiners were either too fast and would not repeat questions and options or they (blind candidates) could not understand clearly what was read.
According to the proprietress, the performance of candidates from the school in the recently-concluded UTME was not impressive as the highest score was 233.
“A total of 25 candidates from this home wrote the 2018 UTME; all of them sailed through the borderline of 200.
“The highest score posted by the candidates was 233 with the lowest being 204.
“This performance is below what was obtained in the 2017 diet of the same examination.
“During the 2017 diet, the highest score among the 23 candidates that wrote the examination was 256 with the lowest score, 200.
“I will say that though the mode for the administration of this examination for the years under review was the same, the performance for 2017 was better because questions were read for two to three times for better comprehension by candidates,’’ she said.
Ohakwe appealed to the organisers of the examinatio, JAMB, to revert to the use of Braillenote Apex machines for subsequent examinations.
She said that when the machines were introduced in 2015, candidates were excited, and the use of the machines the level of their performance.
Braillenote Apex machine enables the visually impaired to read and answer questions via voice or braille.
No fewer than 340 visually impaired candidates sat for the last UTME simultaneously in five centres across six geopolitical zones of the country.
Of the number, 127 from South-West sat for the examination in the Lagos centre on March 19.