Underage Students Causing Problems In Varsities – Minister

The Minister of Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman on Monday, said the Federal Government is considering the adoption of 18 years as the entry age for admission into universities and other tertiary institutions of learning.

Mamman also said underage students were responsible for some of the problems being encountered in higher institutions.

Mamman gave the hint while monitoring the ongoing Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination in Abuja on Monday.

The minister, however, cautioned parents against pushing their children and wards “too much,” to allow them to attain some level of maturity to be able to better manage their affairs.

He said, “The other thing which we notice is the age of those who have applied to go to the university. Some of them are too young. We are going to look at it because they are too young to understand what a university education is all about.

“That’s the stage when students migrate from a controlled environment where they are in charge of their affairs. So if they are too young, they won’t be able to manage properly. That accounts for some of the problems we are seeing in the universities.

“We are going to look at that. 18 is the entry age for university but you will see students, 15, and 16, going to the examination. It is not good for us. Parents should be encouraged not to push their wards, or children too much.”

The minister who commended the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board for a seamless examination process, noted that the adoption of technology had helped in reducing the cases of examination practices.

“Right from screening to those who are here…the examination process is seamless. The environment is comfortable for students. That’s how it should be, especially the use of technology in our affairs and the educational system. It makes life easy for everybody and seamless.

“As we know this examination is going on throughout the country. It is being monitored everywhere seamlessly and from the report I have heard, the malpractice level is very low. Just a 100 out of the 1.2m. It has gone down drastically and believe that it is the use of technology that has made that happen so this is very good.”

Commenting on the high number of candidates seeking admission into the limited slots available in tertiary institutions, Mamman maintained that skills acquisition remains a critical component in preparing the youths for a brighter future.

“It is not a question of being employed but how many will be admitted from this set. I think the figure overall on average is about 20 per cent; universities, polytechnics and colleges of education.

“The question you ask is where are the 80 percent? They are our children, our wards living with us. This is why the issue of skills acquisition is important because any student who is not able to proceed to tertiary education should be able to have a meaningful life even after secondary school, even primary education.

“The only solution to that is skills; by taking skills right from the time they entered school, for the primary right through the educational trajectory. Somebody should finish with one skill or another. That is part of the assumption of the 6-3-3-4.

“It is assumed that by the time a student finishes up to the JSS level, he will have acquired some skills. If he does not proceed to the senior secondary level, he will have acquired some skills that will help him navigate life and cease to be a burden on his parents and society.

“That’s why this skill is just the most important skill for us now that we are going to drive through the education sector for both public and private sector to empower the young ones.”

The Minister of State for Education, Dr Tanko Sununu who was excited the UTME was also ongoing in Saudi Arabia as a result of the standards set by JAMB’s management, noted that the examination has transcended to a very high level of objectivity and reliability of results.

“Right from when the candidates arrive, they would be seated comfortably in the waiting room, screening and other necessary instructions will be given and they will proceed to do biometrics.

“There are some instructions that will be pushed that even if you are just coming into contact with a computer for the first time, provided you have been using the handset or smartphone, that will properly guide you to have access.

“One of the major things I see here, which is a major characteristic of online exams, is the speed. The speed in the centre is excellent; pages are turned when candidates need them without any delay in booting.

“Also in the exam, there are lots of steps to prevent examination malpractice, adjacent candidates will be taking different subjects and even when you are answering the same questions, question number one will be different from question number two from the next person.

The standard of the exam is commendable. I am not surprised that JAMB has to go outside Nigeria to go to other countries to conduct exams, they were in Saudi Arabia and right now the exam is also going (on) in Saudi Arabia.

“I have not heard people complaining of answers leaked, it shows that with online exams we can do a lot.”

The standard admission age currently set by most tertiary institutions in the country is 16 years a candidate is certified as gifted.

In 2021, the Senate announced plans to amend the law establishing the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, to limit the age of a candidate sitting the UTME to 16 years and above.

The then Vice-Chairman of, the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Senator Akon Eyakenyi, indicated during the committee’s oversight visit to JAMB, said this would prevent under-aged candidates from participating in the examination to gain admission into universities in Nigeria.

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