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Lack of carrying capacity costs 60, 000 pupils placement in unity schools


ShekarauSIXTY thousand pupils, about a third of the 86, 000 candidates that wrote last Saturday’s National Common Entrance Examination into unity colleges in the country would not be admitted into the schools, at least for now.

Reason: The 104 schools spread round the 36 states of the federation, have the capacity to admit only about 26, 000 pupils.

Lagos State presented 25, 400 pupils for the examination. In other words, the state had the highest number of candidates that wrote the examination.

Education Minister, Mr. Ibrahim Shekarau, while observing the conduct of the examination at the Government Secondary School, Wuse Zone 3 in Abuja, confirmed that the state paraded the highest number of candidates.

Shekarau, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Dr Mac-John Nwaobiala, said: “The total number of candidates for the 36 states is more than 86,000 and when you break it down, you will see that Lagos State has the greatest number. Lagos presented about 25, 000 candidates while in a state like Borno, we had very low registration.

He informed that, “The total number of centres across the nation was 420; the spread is deliberate so that you do not have congestions.”

“Our carrying capacity for the 104 unity schools is 26, 000; so if you look at 26, 000 and look at 86, 000, you can see the difference,’’ he said.

Shekarau said that the government had made a lot of efforts to improve on access and quality of education, adding that private schools had been encouraged to absorb some of the students.

He expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the examination, adding that adequate security arrangements were made to ensure a peaceful exercise, especially in the volatile states.

Registrar and Chief Executive Officer of NECO, Prof. Monday Joshua, who informed that the examination was rescheduled owing to the shift in the general elections, added that results of the examination would likely be released on April 29.

The NECO boss said the computer-based test had become a global trend, which the examination body was also considering for its examinations.

Head of Lagos Zonal Office of NECO, Mr. Niyi Aribisala, who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in an interview, said the 25, 400 candidates in the state were spread across 110 centres.

He said the examination had continued to win the confidence of parents nationwide because of the way it was being conducted, adding that the standard of the examination was in line with best practices.

“I also want to commend the Lagos State government for the support it had been giving to the council in the course of conducting the examination over the years. Its support has been quite tremendous in terms of facilities and otherwise.

“On several occasions, the state had gone a step ahead to even cancel its monthly environmental sanitation exercises, all in a bid to ensure a hitch-free conduct of the examinations. Such understanding by the state government has indeed assisted the council in the dispensation of its duties in the state. We shall forever continue to appreciate the gesture as we partner to move the country forward,” he said.

Meanwhile, a parent, Mrs. Durotimi Jane, who is also a teacher told The Guardian that with limited access to federal government colleges, a lot of students would be denied access to the school no matter their scores.

The aggrieved parent who lamented that the country was blessed with immense human and natural resources, wondered why young Nigerians were still battling with access to basic and post-basic education.

She expressed the hope that the incoming administration of Mr. Muhammadu Buhari, will look into the challenge and urgently redress it.

Her words, “The issue of widening access to Nigerian schools both at basic and tertiary level has been in the news over the years, and it is really disheartening to note that we are still challenged in that area. With this carrying capacity issue, so many children will be robbed of admission, not for their failure to qualify, but because of limited access. Nigeria is naturally endowed, but some of our leaders are using our resources for their personal gains. I’m appealing to the incoming administration to urgently address the issue and improve access to education in the country.”

Another parent, Dr. Kenny Abey, advised that concerted effort be made to improve access so as to absorb the high number of qualified students into the federal government colleges, which most parents prefer.

“Over 86, 000 pupils wrote an examination and there is provision for only 26, 000 to be admitted. The gap is so wide. So, we are pleading with the government to hasten efforts in ensuring that the Nigerian child has access to basic education.”

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