Some stakeholders in the education sector, including the Nigeria Union of Teachers, All Nigeria Confederation of Principals of Secondary Schools and the National Parent-Teacher Association of Nigeria have expressed divergent opinions on a report seeking to peg the age limit for candidates, who want to sit the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination at 16 years.
It was reported on Tuesday that the Senate announced plans to amend the law establishing the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, so as to limit the age of a candidate sitting the UTME to 16 years and above.
The Vice-Chairman, Senate Committee on Basic Education, Senator Akon Eyakenyi, who gave the indication during the committee’s oversight visit to JAMB, said this would prevent under-aged candidates from participating in the examination for the purpose of gaining admission into universities in Nigeria.
In his reaction, the Secretary-General, NUT, Dr Mike Ike-Ene, said it was not ideal for a student to sit for the UTME at under 16 years, adding that it would be good if the law was amended.
He stated, “If you have done your pedagogy, you don’t need to ask whether it is good or bad. The Senate should be quite correct if it pegs the age of the candidates at 16 years. If you talk of gifted children, how many are they in a class? Whoever must have argued for it must be an expert in sociology and psychology.
“It is not ideal for any child to go and take the UTME or school certificate exam under 16 years. Even those in the university are just there to satisfy their parents. It is not encouraging. It pains me when I see a child not up to one year and they are already taking her to school. It is wrong; the child should first be educated at home.
“When you rush a child too early, the child rushes out too early without learning. Parents should dedicate more time to their children. If a child enters school at eight years, you will notice that he/she will be more mature than his/her other mates, who may be six or seven years old in the same class.”
On the contrary, the President, ANCOPSS, Mr Anselm Izuagie, maintained that there should be no age limit to education.
“I don’t think it is necessary; anybody can pick up at any time; so, you deny them the opportunity of entering into the university because not everyone will complete secondary school at the age of 16 years. People pick up educationally at different times, as such, there should be no age limit to education,” he stated.
Similarly, President, NPTAN, Mr Haruna Danjuma, said writing the UTME at an early age would be of no benefit to students.
“If the government says a minimum of 16 years is okay, there is nothing wrong with that. They should stick to it because allowing a child to write the UTME at an early age will not be of benefit to the child. Government should also improve on education and provide everything the students need to perform well,” he stated.