The Federal Government has prohibited underage children from participating in the National Common Entrance Examination for admission into Unity Schools across the country.
Government has also directed the National Examination Council (NECO) to put strict measures in place to prevent underage persons from registering for the examination, including making birth certificates compulsory as a registration requirement.
Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, David Adejo, gave the directive on Saturday in Abuja while monitoring the conduct of the 2023 Common Entrance Examination into the 110 Federal Government Colleges across the Federation.
Mr Adejo said to get into secondary school, 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.
Mr Adejo, after monitoring the exercise at Federal Government Girls College, Bwari, and Government Day Secondary School, Bwari, also said he was unhappy to see many underage children taking the examination.
Adejo 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.
He equally 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 more than previous years.
Registrar of NECO, Professor Dantani Wushishi, insisted that the conduct of the examination was generally smooth and orderly, saying reports received from across the country indicated that the exams were hitch-free.
While confirming that 72,821 candidates registered for the 2023 National Common Entrance Examination, Professor Wushishi hinted that Lagos State had the highest number of enrollment followed by FCT, while the State with lowest registration, Kebbi, has about 115 registered candidates.
Reporting by Daniel Adejo; Editing by Tony Okerafor