Nigerian Government Considers Raising Tertiary Institution Entry Age to 18

Jack Acheme, Abuja

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The Nigerian Government, through the Federal Ministry of Education, is contemplating setting the minimum entry age into tertiary institutions at 18 years to foster maturity and enhance academic performance.

This announcement came from the Minister of Education, Professor Tahir Mamman, who disclosed the government’s considerations while overseeing the 2024 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) conducted by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) in Abuja, Nigeria.

Professor Mamman expressed concern over the presence of candidates aged 15 and 16 sitting for the UTME, emphasizing that the expected age for tertiary education entry should be 18 years or older. He stressed that establishing the age threshold at 18 would afford candidates the necessary maturity to navigate their academic pursuits responsibly.

The Minister urged parents to refrain from pushing their underage children into tertiary institutions, citing potential adverse effects on their overall development.

Highlighting the importance of this age requirement, the minister explained, “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.”

Commending the use of modern technology by JAMB in facilitating a smooth examination process and reducing instances of malpractice, Prof. Mamman attributed the low malpractice rates to technological advancements.

Also Read: Policy Meeting Exempts Diaspora Candidates, Others  From Post UTME

With a significant gap between the number of admission seekers and available slots in Nigerian tertiary institutions, the government is placing emphasis on skill acquisition to equip youths for future opportunities.

The minister underscored the importance of skills acquisition, stating, “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.”

Additionally, the introduction of the Nigeria Education Loan Fund (NELFUND) aims to enhance access to tertiary education while alleviating financial burdens on parents.

The Minister of State for Education, Dr. Tanko Sununu, echoed Prof. Mamman’s sentiments, commending JAMB for maintaining high standards in the conduct of examinations. Dr. Sununu noted the efficiency of online examinations and the steps taken to prevent malpractice, citing JAMB’s expansion of exam locations to Saudi Arabia as evidence of its reliability.

The 2024 UTME, which commenced on April 19 and is scheduled to conclude on April 29, has seen over 1.2 million candidates participate out of the over 1.9 million registered, marking a significant milestone in Nigeria’s educational landscape.

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