The Federal Government stated that children below the age of 11 have been prohibited from participating in the exam and the presentation of a birth certificate has been made a compulsory requirement during the registration National Common Entrance Examination for admission into Unity Schools.
The Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Education, Mr. David Andrew Adejo, has directed the National Examination Council (NECO) to enforce compliance to prevent underage individuals from registering for the examination, News About Nigeria reports.
During his visit to Abuja on Saturday to oversee the 2023 Common Entrance Examination, Mr Adejo expressed his disappointment with the number of underaged children who had sat for the exam. He emphasized that candidates should be at least 11 years old at the time of taking the examination and should have reached the age of 12 by September, which marks the commencement of the new academic session.
He said: “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.
“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.
“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.
“We are getting to a stage where education is what can you 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 age that he was supposed to be put into school.
“Let our children get to the appropriate age before writing this exam and we are going to make sure NECO put 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 own end, we are able to cut some of these things.”
The Permanent Secretary also noted that the efforts of the Federal Government and other stakeholders in encouraging girls education was yielding fruit, saying the number of girls that registered for the Common Entrance Examination this year is 38,000 far above the previous years.
Registrar of NECO, Professor Dantani Wushishi, said the conduct of the examination was generally smooth and orderly, saying from the reports gotten from across the country, the examination went on hitch-free.
He also confirmed that 72,821 candidates registered for the 2023 National Common Entrance Examination, however, Lagos State had the highest number of enrollment followed by FCT, while the State with the lowest registration, Kebbi, has about 115 registered candidates.