FRUSTRATED: Pathetic stories of visually-impaired applicants denied admission by UNILAG because of Maths

FRUSTRATED: Pathetic stories of visually-impaired applicants denied admission by UNILAG because of Maths

Pathetic stories of visually-impaired

applicants denied admission by UNILAG

because of Maths

We’ve always been fair to physically

challenged applicants –UNILAG

Controversy over ability of visually-

impaired to pass Maths

Of all the subjects that are taught from

primary level to tertiary institution,

Mathematics is obviously the most dreaded by

students. This obviously accounts for the poor

performance of candidates in the subject,

especially in results released by the West

African Examination Council (WAEC) and

National Examination Council (NECO) over the

years. If this is the situation with candidates

who have no problem with the sight, what

would be the fate of the visually impaired

candidates? INNOCENT DURU in this report

digs into the challenges of the visually

impaired students in studying Mathematics

and the allegation of some of them that they

were denied admission by the University of

Lagos (UNILAG) for not having credit pass in

the subject.

Olawoyin Damilola David, a visually impaired

young man, is very sad. He is sad not because

he has challenges with his sight but because

his ambition of acquiring university education

is currently about being dashed. Before he

attempted and scored 220 in the recently

released Joint Admission and Matriculation

Board (JAMB) examination, he had attempted

the examination twice without success. In

his first attempt, he scored below 200 and the

second time he tried, the result was not

released because “ I registered twice- in

Delta State and Lagos State. I registered in

Delta but I had nobody to stay with over

there, I came back to Lagos State to buy

another form. When they announced that the

results had been released, I checked but mine

wasn’t there. That was why my poor mother,

a widow for that matter, went everywhere

she could to borrow money to buy another

form for me because she doesn’t want me to

be a liability in the society.

“After I succeeded in passing JAMB the third

time, I was wrapped in excitement, jumped as

high as I could and punched the air repeatedly

in exhilaration because I thought I had

surmounted the hurdle that stood between me

and my dream of having university education.

I applied to study Mass Communication in

UNILAG and was already having a mental

picture of myself broadcasting in the studio.”

When the list of admitted applicants was

released by the institution, Damilola

confidently strolled to the school with the aim

of seeing his name on the admission list but

what he saw jolted him. His name was

conspicuously missing and his sweet dream and

ambition put on the line.


He was, however, not alone as a number of his

colleagues had a similar problem.

“When we tried to know why we were not

given admission, they told us that we didn’t

meet their requirement of having credit pass

in Mathematics. The reason was strange to us

because visually impaired students don’t write

Mathematics in WAEC examination. When I

sat for WAEC IN 2012 in Ogun State, the

officials specifically asked us (visually

impaired) candidates not to write

Mathematics. They said the results would not

be released if we should do it.

“ Actually, it is difficult if not impossible for

a visually impaired person to have credit pass

in the subject. It is questionable if any does

because even for sighted students,

Mathematics is a nightmare. It is visually

impaired candidates that are assisted that

can come out with credit pass in the subject.

“As I am talking to you right now, my

frustration level is in the danger of reading

zero. As visually impaired persons trying go to

higher institution, we are only trying to be

relevant in the society and should be

encouraged by the institution instead of all

the discouragement we are getting. My pain is

aggravated by the mood of my wretched

mother. She was very happy when I passed

JAMB hoping that her efforts had paid off.

She has been very sick since I told her that I

was not admitted by the school. ”

Samuel Dabiri Oluwaseun, 23, is another

visually impaired applicant that was allegedly

denied admission by the institution for not

having credit pass in Mathematics.

Unlike Damilola, who has a poor widow running

around for his well being, Dabiri has nobody to

ask for help. He told The Nation that his

parents had separated and that he lives at

the mercy of kind- hearted Nigerians.

“Everything about me is sponsored, including

the shoes I am wearing.”

Like Damilola, he had unsuccessfully attempted

JAMB on two occasions, scoring 151 and 181

respectively. In his avowed commitment to

achieve his dream of going to the university,

he got help to obtain the form the third time

and fortunately for him, he passed, scoring


With tears running down his eyes, Dabiri said:

“After achieving my dream of passing JAMB, I

became optimistic that my ambition of

studying Sociology in UNILAG was certain. My

joy was further boosted when somebody

volunteered to foot my bills in the university.

My file has been treated and only waiting for

my admission letter as a confirmation that the

institution actually admitted me. Now, that

help is almost slipping off my hand. One thing

with people like us is that helpers don’t often

come. When they come and you don’t make

good use of it immediately, they may not be

available again tomorrow.

“I am shocked that the institution could for

any reasons discriminate against people like

us. We learnt that they admitted about 5,000

sighted candidates and admitted six out of the

27 visually impaired that applied to the

institution. We even heard that some sighted

applicants who scored below what we scored

were admitted by the institution. Why on

earth would they do that? This is injustice

and there is an urgent need by the

government to intervene in this matter. If

every institution should be meting out the

same treatment to people like us, what would

be our fate? Do they want us to take to the

street and start begging for alms?’’

Dabiri’s colleague, Kalu Joseph scored 218 in

his JAMB examination and looked forward to

studying Christian Religious Studies (CRS)

education in UNILAG but was not admitted

because he doesn’t have credit pass in


“It was shocking to learn that I was denied

admission because I don’t have credit pass in

Mathematics. I think it is just an

afterthought, and a deliberate attempt to

scheme us out. The subject is not easy for the

visually impaired to learn. The facilities are

not there. We are aware that they have been

waiving it for our colleagues over the years

because they know it is a herculean task for

people like us to pass it. They have brought

untold sorrow to my life and aggravated my

unpleasant condition as a virtually impaired

person,” he said.

Lukman Olalekan and Abiodun Lateef Alabi,

from Osun and Oyo states respectively, also

lamented their plight.

Lukman said: “As a visually impaired person, I

have always not supported the idea of begging

for alms. This is why I am giving my all to

acquire university education. Unfortunately,

UNILAG is out to jeopardize my ambition and

that of my colleagues. I scored 211 in JAMB

and that is no mean feat for somebody

without sight. My colleagues and I who scored

above 200 in JAMB deserve some commendation

and no condemnation because many sighted

candidates didn’t score as much as that. This

alone is enough for the institution to admit

us without stress. If I am eventually denied

the admission and not allowed to achieve my

ambition, I would be forced to take to begging

to survive. Right now, going to school remains

my only hope of having gainful employment and

not having to be a liability on anybody.”

Lateef also expressed disappointment over the

development, saying: “It is unbelievable that

the institution would add another form of

darkness to our condition. The government

should look into this and make sure we are not

denied the opportunity of achieving our

ambition in life.”

Applicants with Mathematics also allege they

were not admitted

While the visually impaired applicants that

were allegedly denied admission for not having

credit pass in Mathematics are yet to come to

terms with the fate that has befallen them, it

was shocking to also find that those who had

credit pass in the subject were also allegedly

not given admission by the institution.

The victims told our correspondent that the

institution authorities said they were not

admitted because their subject combination in

JAMB was not correct.

24 year-old Awiri Christian said he has credit

pass in Mathematics and scored 223 in JAMB

but was shocked that he was not admitted.

“It came to me as a serious shock because I

met all the requirements. Their claim that my

subject combination was wrong was frivolous.

I wrote English Language, Government,

Literature and CRS in JAMB. I didn’t just

choose those subjects because I could pass

them. I carefully studied the brochure before

I selected those subjects when I was filling my

JAMB form. I scored 223 in JAMB. I wanted to

study Political Science and I am sure that

those combinations are apt for the course.

Besides, we don’t just do anything without

consulting with the leadership of our

association, especially those in the various

institutions we are applying for admission.

In fact, our colleagues who are studying the

same course in the institution presently used

the same subject combination to gain

admission into the school.”

Like others, Christian had sat for JAMB on

two occasions without making success out of


“ My frustration is that this is the first time

I have passed JAMB in the last three years. In

my first attempt, my results were not fully

released making me to score below 200. They

released three out of four subjects and after

waiting to see if they would release the last

one, they eventually removed the previously

released result and wrote ‘absent’ there.

“If I didn’t give up at that point and through

dint of hard work and God’s favour I

succeeded in my third attempt, why would the

institution deny me admission for no genuine

reasons? If I end up not being admitted

with my score in JAMB, it means I would go

back to square one. I would have to go back

to writing JAMB all over and now that my

morale is abysmally low, how would I

concentrate and pass? If I pass again, how

am I sure I would get admission? The

treatment is unfair,” he stated in emotion

laden voice.

Mustafa Yusuf Olagoke also has credit pass in

Mathematics but allegedly not also admitted by

the institution.

“I have credit pass in Mathematics and also

scored 230 in JAMB. With the results, I was

convinced that I would get admission into the

school to study Political Science All the

excuses that some people don’t have credit

pass in Mathematics and that some of us did

the wrong subject combinations are cooked

up. This was not the practice in the

institution over the years that we have been

following the admission process.


“I have broken every barrier in my

determination to acquire higher education but

the UNILAG authorities have placed artificial

barrier on my path. It is unfortunate. I did

the right subject combinations. Our

association in the institution even called to

discuss the appropriate subject combinations

with us before we filled the forms.

“Before now, the immediate past admission

officer, late Mrs Adare, would make sure that

every visually impaired applicant that scored

above 200 was given admission. What she was

always doing was to invite the candidates to

verify their results and confirm that they are

actually visually impaired. Once she did that,

the applicants would be taken.”

Narrating the effect of the development on

him, Mustafa said: “ I have been feeling

terribly bad since I got this information. I am

a music lover and supposed to be playing my

musical instruments before I was asked to

come and talk to you but I was in my room

crying and wondering what would become of

my life if I eventually don’t get this

admission. My parents are equally traumatized

because their joy of living to see me acquire

university education is under serious threat.

“Christian and I went to secondary school

using the scholarship provided for us by people

who appreciated our love for music. After we

finished secondary school, we had nowhere to

go again. Fortunately for us, mummy (the

proprietress of Bethesda Home for the Blind)

picked us up and has been taking care of us

since them.”

In a chat with The Nation, the proprietress of

the vocational centre, Mrs Chioma Ohakwe,

said: “ Denying the applicants admission by

the university is a painful. It is difficult for

the visually impaired to write Mathematics.

Nigeria does not have the technology that can

enable them to learn and perform well in

Mathematics. Before now, visually impaired

persons could not operate computer but with

the development of a software called Job

Access With Speech (JAWS), they can now do

that. The software reads out everything on

the computer for them.

“For the past three years, they have been

admitting our students, they always waived

Mathematics for them because they know what

it entails. Eight of our students that applied

to University of Nigeria, Nsukka and three

others that applied to Nnamdi Azikiwe

University (UNIZIK) have been admitted. They

saw their conditions and showed compassion to

them by waiving Mathematics.

‘’The issue of subject combinations is also out

of it. The management of the institution

should do something about this because most

of these children are orphans. They depend on

kind-hearted people to sponsor them. If the

opportunity is lost, they may have to wait for

a very long time before they would get


Why many visually impaired shun Mathematics

Findings revealed that most visually impaired

students who attend public schools across the

country don’t get good attention from

Mathematics teachers. State-owned schools

are said to be highly culpable in this regard as

they lack the basic facilities and resource

persons needed to impact knowledge of

Mathematics into the students.

Reliving his experience with Mathematics in

public school, Dabiri said: “I didn’t do

Mathematics in my Senior Secondary School

Examination (SSCE) because all through the

years I spent in school, the Mathematics

teachers saw us as a surplus to the class.

They would come to the class, go straight to

the board and start writing. After writing,

they would ask the class to look up and briefly

explain what they must have written.

“Thereafter, they would ask if we understood.

The sighted ones would say yes sir, while we

would keep quiet. When I saw that it was

beyond me to go along with the subject, I

decided to focus my attention on other

subjects. Most public schools don’t have any

facility and human resources to help visually

impaired to learn Mathematics. For good part

of my days in the secondary school, we didn’t

have Mathematics teachers.”

Kalu on his part said: “I didn’t bother to sit

for Mathematics examination when I did my

SSCE because I didn’t do it in secondary

school. I had my secondary school in a public

school in Abia State and I must say that the

attitude of the Mathematics teachers were

not helpful. I was only listening to what they

were teaching without understanding what

was being taught. Mathematics is a practical

subject and there was no way I could have

understood it by just listening to the teacher

teach me the subject like somebody telling a


Mustafa told our correspondent that he

wouldn’t have made credit pass in

mathematics if he did not leave a state-owned

school for a federal government one. He said:

“ I went to a public school for my junior

secondary education. There, the Mathematics

teachers never bothered about us -the

visually impaired. They were teaching the

class as if we were all sighted. This made me

to leave the school for a federal government

secondary school. In the federal government

schools, the Mathematics teachers gave good

attention to the visually impaired. They have

provided us with Braille, Maths frame board

and other basic tools that aided our learning.

“The challenge we had to deal with was with

construction. It is impossible for a visually

impaired person to do construction. We

always leave out construction questions in

WAEC examinations. All we do is to indicate

that we are visually impaired.

Controversy over ability of visually impaired

to get credit pass in examination

Controversy has, however, trailed the ability

of the visually impaired to pass Mathematics

at credit level.

An educationist, who simply identified himself

as Dr Ben, said it is practically impossible for

them to pass Mathematics. He insisted that

any visually impaired person that passes the

subject must have been assisted to do so.

“Let us face the reality, it is impossible for

visually impaired persons to get credit pass in

Mathematics. Where is the basic tool they

need to attempt the examination? These

people respond to things they could hear or

touch. To start with, they need a talking

scientific calculator to solve a number of the

questions. This is not anywhere around their

reach. They have no tool to draw and identify

shapes. So tell me how they end up passing.


“We, as a country do not yet have what it

takes to impact Mathematical knowledge to

the bind. The teachers do not also have the

capacity to teach these children effectively.

They are only trying but their efforts in all

honesty is not enough. The implication here is

that when such students who claimed to have

passed Mathematics get to higher institution,

they would not be exempted from taking

courses related to the subject because they

have proven that they know it. this can lead

to rustication.”

Mr Olufemi, a visually impaired ICT expert,

also shared Dr Ben’s line of thought. He said:

“ Visually impaired cannot pass Mathematics

because we lack the equipment and human

resources to do that. It is only when all these

are put in place that visually impaired persons

can attempt to do well in Mathematics. I even

had a friend who because he came from a rich

home had all the necessary tools but when he

sat for WAEC, the best he could get was

ordinary pass. Visually impaired persons who

score credit pass in the subject must have

been assisted.”

Abiodun, a Mathematics teacher in one of

the federal government secondary schools in

Lagos State, however, says it is not

impossible for visually impaired to pass

Mathematics at credit level.

“It is not impossible. The only challenge here

in our school is that the visually impaired have

been merged with the sighted. This makes it

difficult if not impossible to give the

necessary attention to the visually impaired.

In the past, we had special classes for visually

impaired and had all the time in this world to

come to their level. One could sit beside them

and explain things one after the other. When

you teach, they would be using their Braille to


“When they want to write the answers for

you to mark, they would type everything out

in words. They have no ability to work out the

calculations. They only can use their computer

to type everything out in words. Their

challenge is in the area of drawing tables and

curves. This is pretty difficult for now.’’

Reacting to the controversy, Mrs Jean Obi,

the leader of Nigerwives and former test

developer for WAEC, said it is difficult for

visually impaired to pass Mathematics but not


“ The problem is mainly in the area of drawing

diagrams and calculations. Fortunately we

have produced a drawing board called tactile.

It makes it possible for a teacher to draw a

diagram and make the visually impaired

students feel what it looks like. When this is

done, they would have a mental picture of

what such a diagram looks like and can draw

it later on their own. We have sent about 50

of these boards to our organization in Abuja.

“In the area of calculation, the problem is

that they would need talking scientific

calculators. This is very expensive. We are

still looking at how we can get them cheaper

for students in the country. you can scribble

and do calculations for sighted students but

you can’t do that for the visually impaired.”

Sharing her experience from an international

workshop she attended in Campala, Mrs Obi

said: “ During the workshop, we the

participants exchanged ideas about the

challenges involved in teaching Mathematics to

the visually impaired. Participants from

Kenya made us to understand that visually

impaired students were used to not taking

Mathematics lessons. But in the last four to

five years, their government said every

student in the country must be given equal

opportunity in the area of education. They

provided the necessary tools and an enabling

environment and made it compulsory for every

visually impaired student o take the subject.

We can also do the same here in Nigeria with

the support of the government, the teachers,

students and other stakeholders.

“The workshops we have also done across the

country show that a good number of the

teachers are not competent to teach these

children. You can’t teach what you don’t

have. Another challenge is that the number of

students in most classes are too large. There

are about 60 to 70 in some classes. This makes

it impossible for a teacher to teach

effectively. I must give kudos to the Lagos

State government for their efforts in giving

quality education to the visually impaired.

They really stand out. we would want other

states to emulate them.

UNILAG reacts

The authorities of UNILAG have, however,

denied the allegations levelled against them by

the applicants.

The Deputy Registrar Information, Mr Oke

Olagoke, said: “ We admit based on the

vacancies we have. At present, we have 32, 00

applicants out of which only 4, 800 would be

admitted. We always admit everybody that

meets our requirements and those of JAMB.

Besides, we have a policy to always encourage

physically challenged that meet our

requirements. We give specific assistance to

them in the areas of accommodation and

Braille writing.”

On the allegation of scheming out the

candidates on the ground of wrong subject

combinations, he said: “ Whatever we are

doing is in consonance with JAMB brochure. A

candidate needs to study the brochure very

well and not assume that what university A

accepts would be accepted by B. I will advise

that such candidates bring their documents

for us to verify their claims.”

Private school owners versus WAEC

In another development, some private school

operators have accused WAEC of not always

bringing examination papers for visually

impaired during public examinations. This

lends credence to Damilola’s claim that he and

his colleagues were not allowed to sit for

Mathematics by the officials when he sat for

SSCE, although he said that he wrote the

examination in a public school.

“WAEC doesn’t bring question papers for

visually impaired students that write exams in

our school. Anyday the students are to write

Mathematics in WAEC exams, visually impaired

students don’t come because there is a

precedent by the examination body that it is

not meant for them. For us, it is quite

understandable because of their condition,”

Mrs Abu, a school proprietor, said.

Reacting to the allegation, Mr Demianus

Ojijeogu, the Public Affairs Officer of WAEC,

said: “ It is not true that we don’t supply

materials for visually impaired candidates to

write Mathematics in our exams. We have a

special unit that caters for all the needs of

disable candidates. Over the years, we

observed that blind candidates don’t offer

Mathematics and they don’t do science

practicals in the WASSCE. This was out of

their own choice and not because provisions

were not made for them by us.

”But this year, a total of 199 visually

impaired candidates sat for Mathematics and a

certain percentage scored credit pass. We

make Braille available for them and during

exams, if sighted candidates are given one

hour, they would be given extra 30 minutes or

more. We also make provisions for albinos too.

We have factored all this into our

preparations for the exams. We don’t leave

anything to chance. We treat them specially.’’