2019 UTME: 15Year-Old Breaks Record, Scores Highest With 347 Marks

TRACEREPORTERS  …Ekene Franklin, a 15-year-old student from Abia State has emerged the best candidate in this year’s Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations (UTME), by scoring 347 marks as the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) on Saturday released the results of the 2019 UTME.
In second place and also from Abia State, is Igban Emmanuel Chidiebube, a 16-year-old boy scored 346 marks while 17-year-old Oluwo Isaac Olamilekan Oloyode from Osun State came third with 345 marks.
But the Registrar of JAMB, Professor Ishaq Oloyode, who announced this at a media briefing, Saturday, however, said the best candidate may not be admitted in the University of Lagos, which he chose as his first choice because of age.
*AGE LIMIT: A NEWSPAPERS FORUM ANALYSIS*
Although the 16 years age limit requirement for university admission has no legal backing, it has become the gold standard for some universities in Nigeria, which had in their post-Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) advertorial have made it mandatory for “candidates, who will not be 16 years of age at the time of admission, are not eligible and need not apply.”
As of September 2018, the estimated population of Nigeria is about 200 million, according to the United Nations with an average of 17.9 years. Most of that is a young population, with 42.54 per cent between the ages of one and 14. There is also a very high dependency ratio of the country at 88.2 dependents per non-dependents.
Against the backdrop of the statistics, education experts argue that the continued implementation of the age-limit policy is a waiting disaster. With more and more vibrant and precocious kids completing their primary and secondary education earlier than ever imagined in the past and the universities shooing them away, claiming that they must be 16 years old before they can be fit to learn at the ivory tower. The Nigerian government should not wait until many of these kids become despondent.
The Director of Studies at Starfields, Chris Eigbe, had argued that people like
Ekene Franklin should be given a scholarship and admission into the university so as to achieve their dreams at a young age.
Similarly, the Vice Chancellor of Caleb University, Prof. Ayandiji Aina, pointed out that children with exceptional performance should be given a waiver. According to him, using age limit to momentarily halt their academic momentum might not be good for the nation and the individuals. Aina stated:
“I think the law in place states that you have to be 16 years before you are allowed entry into the university. But I think there should be an exception to every rule particularly four exceptionally brilliant students.”
However, an education consultant, Mrs. Busola Adegbaju, thinks differently. She posited: “The national curriculum and age range should be followed as it is a yardstick for admission into any academic institution. At a certain age, a child is expected to exhibit some skills morally, intellectually, emotionally and socially. I can assure you that the standard of education should be maintained following the national curriculum that will produce a total child who will in turn face future challenges that may not be academic related.”
As the issue has become a recurring decimal, experts have called on the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, to avert the looming disaster of wasting the brains of young, vibrant and scholarly youngsters.
In 2015, education stakeholders had engaged in spirited arguments – for and against – the age-limit admission policy by the universities.
The age limit has become a norm with the exception of few universities admitting admission seekers as young as 14 and 15 years old.
For Dada Olanrewaju, a career guidance counsellor, the dynamic nature of contemporary society and the attendant globalisation are some of the factors responsible for the diverse changes witnessed along this line.
Maintaining that 16 is still a reasonable age for a student to gain admission into a university, Olanrewaju, however, regretted that some parents and institutions have abused the policy.
“Globalisation has made students very smart in learning, due to the introduction of advanced learning gadgets, as well as the Internet. But it is not always advisable to allow students below the age of 18 into the universities owing to the fact that, most of them possess low Intelligent Quotient (IQ) and cannot meet up with the demands of the society,” he stated.
Arguing further, Olanrewaju noted: “Admitting students below the approved age could also lead to stress and mental instability. Some of these students are just not equal to the multi-tasking nature of life in higher institutions. We have seen a case at the University of Lagos where a student went berserk because his mental capacity was incapable of assimilating what he was learning and getting used to the way of life in the university.”
Adding another but familiar twist to the issue, an educationist,  Professor Larry Osuji, would rather accuse the elites of abusing the age limit in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions using their financial muscle. Larry claimed that 60 per cent of students below the stipulated age limit in different schools are children of the rich, whose parents could afford to spirit them through schools to acquire degrees at a tender age. “However,” he said, “one thing they fail to understand is that these children are barely matured for some of the stages they find themselves. Nonetheless, the fast learners among them assimilate easily in terms of academics, while some of them are just unserious and end up becoming a bunch of nuisance.
Yet, Prof. Larry Osuji admitted: “The good thing is that some of these students end up achieving their life’s ambition in good time, while their parents also put off the burden of funding their education quite early in life.”
One parent, Ikechukwu Denis, believer that parents who allow their children get admitted into tertiary institutions at a tender age have reasons for doing so. “For me, it is not always advisable to let a child under the age of 18 to get into the university even though as a parent, I want the best for my children. Most parents really want their children to get done with education early in life – get a job where available and get married in time as well.”
In saner climes, experts noted, the federal and state ministries of education would have called a summit on the issue of age limit in seeking admission into the university. To them, it is an issue of national and human capital development. They argue that Nigerian youths have a lot to offer their fatherland and must therefore be protected by the government by the way it defines policies especially in the education sector.
In the mean time, the jury is still out as to usefulness of having a cap or not on the age of university admission seekers. Stakeholders, however, urged the federal and state governments to return the nation’s tertiary education system to its glorious days. With implicit confidence that a four-year programme will run as such, perhaps, not many a parent will be eager to push his child through the ivory tower while still enjoying his childhood.

5 Comments on “2019 UTME: 15Year-Old Breaks Record, Scores Highest With 347 Marks”

  1. 6/5/2019 I’m pleased by the manner in which tracereport.com.ng handles this kind of subject matter! Generally to the point, sometimes polemic, consistently well-written and also challenging.

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