The federal government of Nigeria has issued strict measures to prevent underage children from participating in the National Common Entrance Examination (NCEE) for admission into all the federal unity colleges of the country.
Permanent secretary at the federal ministry of education, David Adejo gave the directive on Saturday, June 3, 2023 in Abuja while monitoring the conduct of the NCEE into the 110 federal government colleges across the country.
Adejo in his statement explained that the government has directed the National Examinations Council (NECO) to put strict measures in place to prevent underage children from registering for the examination, including making birth certificate compulsory as a registration requirement.
He maintained that it was unacceptable for candidates less than eleven years to take the examination. He insists that to get into secondary school, a child should be at least 12 years old.
“This year, I have advice for parents and I beg you, take this advice to any single home you know. We are killing our children by allowing underage children to write the common entrance examination,” he said.
Furthermore, he said; “I saw children that I know that are not up to 10, and three of them accepted that they are nine years old. We are doing many things; one, we 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 times if a child starts too early, he or she will have problems later in life.”
He reiterated that education is designed in such a way that at any particular stage in a child’s life, there are messages his or brain can take and understand and be able to use.
Hence, according to him, parents by allowing their underage children to write such examinations are encouraging education that is just reliant on reading textbooks and passing examinations.
“We are getting to a stage where education is what you can use your knowledge to do for the society. You put a small child to go through all the rigours, by the time he finishes secondary, getting to university becomes a problem.
I had that experience with a friend. Till date that friend did not get into a university, simply because he was put into school earlier than the age that he was supposed to be put into school.
Let our children get to an appropriate age before writing this exam and we are going to make sure NECO puts in place appropriate checks.
“We didn’t want to get to where we will say bring a birth certificate but that is the stage we are going to now. When registering, also upload the child’s birth certificate, so that at our own end, we are able to cut some of these things,” he said.
Meanwhile, the permanent secretary revealed that a total of 72,821 candidates sat for the examination held on Saturday.