Senate considers blocking under-16 Nigerians from writing UTME

The proposed amendment would bar thousands of candidates from writing UTME.

Nigerian senators [Tope Brown]

The Nigerian Senate is considering amending the nation's laws to effectively limit the age of candidates writing the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) to 16 years and above.

Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Senator Akon Eyakenyi, announced the plan during an oversight visit to the office of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB).

The proposal is likely to raise concerned eyebrows, especially as many young Nigerians under the age of 16 write the annual exam.

The UTME itself has repeatedly been used as a yardstick to measure Nigeria's deteriorating education system, with low cut-off marks, and off-target admission figures into tertiary institutions.

Eyakenyi also suggested that candidates below the age of 18 should not be admitted into the university.

He said this is because age is a significant factor in the learning ability of students.

The lawmaker also acknowledged JAMB as an important bridge between secondary and tertiary education, and a necessary vehicle in Nigeria's education sector.

"If the products from the secondary schools are not properly catered for to be assessed before turning them into the university definitely you will have a problem," he said.

Eyakenyi promised JAMB Registrar, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, that the Senate, as a legislative body, is ever willing to support the Board to function effectively.

He said education is very important to Nigeria's future, and deserves maximum attention.

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