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FG expresses concern over underage candidates in common entrance exams

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The rate at which underage students participate in common entrance exams has been condemned by the federal government.

Andrew Adejoh, the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Education, raised this concern during his visit to Abuja to oversee the 2023 common entrance examinations for Unity Schools. The National Examination Council (NECO) organised the examination, which saw a total of 72,821 candidates nationwide.

Adejoh stated, “I have some advice for parents this year, and I earnestly request you to share this advice with every household you know. Allowing underage children to sit for the common entrance examination is detrimental to their well-being.”

He further expressed his concern by recounting his personal experience, saying, “I witnessed children whom I know are not even 10 years old, and three of them admitted to being nine years old. By permitting this, we are fostering detrimental practices. Education encompasses more than just passing exams; it entails teaching, learning, and character development.”

Appealing to parents, Adejoh urged, “Please let your children take the exams when they are of the appropriate age. Pushing your child too far does not yield positive outcomes. Often, children who start early encounter challenges later in life.”

Adejoh emphasised the need for a well-designed education system that aligns with the cognitive abilities of students at different stages of their lives. He stated, “Education is structured in a manner that the human brain can comprehend and utilize information at specific points in life. We are transitioning from an education system focused solely on reading textbooks and passing exams to one that emphasises applying knowledge to benefit society.”

He continued, “Subjecting young children to rigorous academic demands can hinder their future prospects. I had a friend who experienced this firsthand. Even to this day, my friend has been unable to gain admission to a university because he was enrolled in school at a younger age than recommended.”

Adejoh assured that measures would be put in place by NECO to verify the age of candidates, stating, “We are reaching a point where we may have to request birth certificates. During registration, parents will be required to upload their child’s birth certificate. This will enable us to address some of these concerns.”

The permanent secretary also highlighted the progress made in promoting girls’ education, as the number of girls registered for the common entrance examination this year was significantly higher at 38,000 compared to previous years.

Professor Dantani Wushishi, the NECO registrar reported that the examination was conducted smoothly and without any issues. He confirmed the registration of 72,821 candidates for the 2023 National Common Entrance Examination, with Lagos State having the highest enrollment followed by FCT.

Kebbi State had the lowest registration with only approximately 115 candidates.

Wushishi acknowledged the need to address gaps caused by a surge in last-minute registrations and assured that appropriate measures would be implemented by the council.

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