The National Examination Council (NECO), which administers the National Common Entrance Examination for admission into national institutions across the nation, has prohibited underage students from taking the test.
NECO has been instructed to implement stringent procedures, such as making birth documents a condition for registration, to stop minors from signing up for the exam.
According to the federal government, a student must be at least 12 years old to enrol in secondary school. The federal government specified that while taking the exam, a person might be eleven plus, but they had to be twelve before September.
David Adejo, the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Education, issued the order on Saturday, June 3, in Abuja while observing the administration of the 2023 Common Entrance 116 Federal Government Colleges around the Federation are being examined.
After observing the test at the Federal Government Girls College and the Government Day Secondary School in Bwari, the Permanent Secretary expressed his displeasure at the large number of students who were underage for the test.
“This year, I have advised 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 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.”
A total of 72,821 candidates sat for the examination on Saturday nationwide.