By Saheed Ibrahim
Pupils below age 12 cannot be admitted into Unity Schools across Nigeria, hence, cannot write common entrance examinations into the school, the Federal Government has declared.
The government has accordingly directed the National Examination Council (NECO) to put strict measures in place to prevent underage persons from registering for the examination, including making birth certificate a compulsory requirement for registration.
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Mr David Andrew Adejo, gave the directives on Saturday in Abuja while monitoring the conduct of the 2023 Common Entrance Examination into the 110 Federal Government Colleges across the Federation.
Adejo noted that to get into secondary, a candidate should be at least 12 years, adding that one could be eleven plus during the examination and by September, such a person would have attained the age of 12 years.
The Permanent Secretary said he was unhappy to see many underage pupils taking the common entrance examination.
Adejo said: “We are killing our children by allowing underage children to write the Common Entrance Examination.
“I saw children that I know that are not up to 10, and three of them said that they are nine years old. They are teaching the children the wrong values. Education is not about passing exams. Education is teaching, learning and character formation.
“I beg the parents, let these children do the exams when they should. We don’t get value by pushing your child too far. Most of the time, if a child starts too early, they will have problems later in life.
“Education is designed in such a way that at any particular stage in life, there are messages your brain can take and understand and be able to use. We are moving from education that is reliant on reading textbooks and passing exams.
“Let our children get to the appropriate age before writing this exam, and we will make sure NECO puts in place appropriate checks. We didn’t want to get to where we will say bring birth certificate, but that is the stage we are going to now. In registering, also upload the child’s birth certificate so that at our end, we are able to cut some of these things,” he said.
The Permanent Secretary also noted that the efforts of the Federal Government and other stakeholders in encouraging girls’ education are yielding fruit, saying the number of girls that registered for the Common Entrance Examination this year is 38,000, far above the previous years.