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Osorhor Ogenevwegba Michael
Delta state polytechnic otefe oghara ( DESPO )
Graduate, Nigeria.
Many admission seekers in the country have been denied admission into tertiary institutions because of to their age. In this report, CHIKA MEFOR seeks the opinion of stakeholders on the age limit for admission and why it should or should not be reviewed.

On Saturday, May 8, 2019, the Joint Admission and Matriculations Board (JAMB) announced the result of the 2019 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination. The revelation by the JAMB registrar, Prof. Ish-aq Oloyode that a 15-year old boy, Ezenala Ekene Franklin, scored the highest mark of 347, sparked a lot of argument about the age limit for admission in Nigeria’s tertiary institutions.

Oloyede, while announcing the result, had stated that the teenager, who hails from Imo State, may not be offered admission due to his age.

Though the 16-year minimum age for university admission in Nigeria does not have legal backing, it has become more or less, the standard as far as university admission in the country is concerned. Although, some universities, especially private ones, have moved away from the norm to admit students as young as 14 and 15, most public universities are sticking to 16 year age limit, so that young Ekele, who applied for admission in UNILAG, no doubt, had to encounter the problem. But he is not the first to face the problem.

Last year, a 15-year old boy, David Okorogheye, passed his West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) with flying colours, scoring A1 in all nine subjects he took and 332 in UTME having applied to UNILAG to study medicine. Despite his beautiful performance in both examinations, David, who is an indigene of Delta State, was denied admission on account of his age.

Again, Faith Oyende, Lagos State University’s best graduating science student in 2017, was denied admission twice, because she had not attained the age of 16. She eventually graduated at the age of 21, having studied Biochemistry and graduated with a 4.68 cumulative grade point average (CGPA) to emerge the best graduating student that year.

Her desire was to study medicine and she did very well in her UTME but age was a stumbling block for her.
“It is a long story. I actually wanted to become a medical doctor. But I was denied admission at the University of Lagos, (UNILAG) and LASU because I was not yet 16-years-old. Having finished secondary school at the age of 15, I wrote and passed the Joint Admission Matriculation Board Examination. But during post-JAMB test, I was told I must be 16 years on or before October 1, 2011,” she said.

Faith lost the admission because she did not turn 16 until January 1, 2012.
As the admission season commences, there is no doubt that so many will be in the shoes of Ekele and Faith. While some stakeholders believe that the stipulated admission age should be adhere to, many others think that the world has evolved so much and that children grow so fast and can start up tertiary education even at the age of 14.

Speaking on the issue, a senior lecturer in the University of Nigeria Nsuka (UNN), Dr Philip Mefoh, is of the opinion that universities should strictly adhere to the 16-year-age rule.
Mefoh, who is a psychologist, added that if children are pushed into higher institutions before they reach a certain age, they are bound to miss out on some development stage that they need to pass through.
“The danger is huge. When a child is pushed way too early, he/she quickly becomes a ‘semi adult.’ This leads to the problem of adjustment, for the individual is no longer a child, yet he/she is also not an adult. If the child continues to live a hurried life, sooner or later, it will show that he/she missed some developmental stage(s). This often leads to some kind of fixation in adult life – that is, putting up with some kind of awkward behaviour in a place such is not expected like chewing gum at a board meeting or doing things you expect from a child),” he said.

He however added that exceptions should be made if the person in question is a child prodigy. A child prodigy is a person under the age of 10 who produces meaningful output in some domain to the level of an adult expert performer.

“At 15, the highest scorer in JAMB isn’t a child prodigy. He’s simply intelligent. If a 7-year-old child or younger, should achieve his feat, I will push for the child to be given admission. In this case, no!” he said.

Also in support of Dr Mefoh’s view is Norbert Eze, another senior lecturer in UNN. Eze noted that part of the reason the system is collapsing is the fact that children who are not matured are admitted into tertiary institutions.

“So many of these children don’t even know what to do when they get into school. That is also the reason the hostels they stay in are getting dirtier by the day because these children do not clean at home. So how will they start learning to clean up in school? You find out that the hostels are all messed up. This wasn’t the case when we were in school. In the class, you will see them all absolved with their phones. In my faculty, I keep telling them that the phones they keep pressing are produced by youths like them in Asia and Europe.’’

However, Eze is of the opinion that in every generation, there are exceptional youths, adding that if young Ekele wrote the exam, without cheating, he should be given a place in the institution.

A Nigerian parent, Mrs Omalicha Okeke, in her opinion, feels that candidates who did well in their UTME should be given admission, no matter the age.

Okeke argued that if the candidates were able to sit for the examination and perform well, then they are capable of getting admission and dealing with whatever issue arises in school.

However, Ebi Gabriel, a school guidance and counselor, feels otherwise. Gabriel says he foresees many problems if children are allowed into universities without reaching the stipulated 16 years, adding that many of such children will easily be influenced into joining cults or using drugs.
“Many of them will not be able to withstand the pressure from peer group. Imagine what is happening today. Cult activities and doing drugs is on the increase. If our children attain the right age before being admitted, they will be able to withstand these pressures,” he said.

Gabriel blamed parents for pushing their children beyond their limit adding that most times, that is done just as a show off for other parents to see that their child has finished school early.

Source leadership.ng/2019/05/31/admission-seekers-in-nigeria-and-the-issue-of-age/amp/
Admission Seekers In Nigeria And The Issue Of Age - Campus Gists & Events

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