UTME: FG to Review Minimum Entry Age to Varsities, Others

Kuni Tyessi in Abuja

The Minister of Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman, has disclosed that the Federal Government is planning to review and peg the minimum entry age into tertiary institutions in the country to 18 years.

The minister, who gave the hint while monitoring the ongoing Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) in Abuja, advised parents against pushing their children and wards “too much,” to allow them attain some level of maturity so as to be able to better manage their affairs.

According to him, “The other thing which we notice is the age of those who have applied to go to the university. Some of them are really 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 own 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. Eighteen 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 (JAMB) for a seamless examination process, noted that the adoption of technology has 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 I believe that it is the use of technology that has made that happen. So, this is very good,” he said.

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.

According to the minister, “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 per cent? They are our children, our wards living with us. This is why the issue of skills acquisition is terribly important because any student who is not being able to proceed to tertiary education should be able to have a meaningful life even after secondary school, even primary education actually.

“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.”

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