The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Andrew Adejoh, made this known in Abuja on Saturday while monitoring the 2023 common entrance examinations into Unity Schools. The examination was organised by the National Examination Council.
A total of 72,821 candidates sat for the examination on Saturday nationwide.
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 time, 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 you can use your knowledge to do for 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 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 the point where we would say “bring a 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 are yielding fruit, saying the number of girls that registered for the Common Entrance Examination this year is 38,000, far above the previous years.
The Registrar of NECO, Professor Dantani Wushishi, said the conduct of the examination was generally smooth and orderly, saying from the reports received from across the country, the examination went on hitch-free.
While confirming that 72,821 candidates registered for the 2023 National Common Entrance Examination, Wushishi disclosed that Lagos State had the highest enrollment, followed by FCT, while the state with the lowest registration, Kebbi, has about 115 registered candidates.
He noted that the Council would put in place mechanisms to check some of the noticeable gaps caused by an upsurge in registration a day before the examination.