Prof. Gregory Ibe, founder and Chancellor, Gregory University, Uturu, in Abia, has said that age should not be a barrier for anyone seeking admission into the university.
“Age should not stop anyone from enrolling into the university. The controversy over how old one must be before being accepted into a university is very unnecessary,’’ Ibe told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in Abuja.
He was reacting to public concerns that followed a university’s decision to reject Ekele Franklin, the overall best candidate in the 2019 UTME.
Master Ekele Franklin, who scored 347 points from a maximum of 400, was not considered for an admission slot because he was just 15 years. His choice institution had insisted that he must be 16 before being considered.
But Ibe told NAN that there was nowhere in the where age was a limit to a brilliant student’s ambition to enter the university.
“Everywhere in the world, you will see people of 12 years, eight years getting degrees and succeeding.
“Is there a barrier in making money? If there is no barrier to making money, if a child can develop a software at age 20 and sell it for billions and make money, there should be no age barrier in educational pursuit.
“To me, there is no need for the controversy. Age should not stop anyone from doing anything in this world. It is all about your articulation and readiness to deliver,” he said.
Ibe explained that individuals were gifted by God, adding that there was no need for artificial barriers on the path to exploring one’s gift.
“People should be supported and encouraged to identify their gifts and explore them. No one should place hurdles on the way.
“The Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), does science expo. I have been part of the sponsors of that programme in the past 13 years.
“Each time I identify the best, I move with that person until he finishes secondary school.
“Most of them are in my university on scholarship from NTA science exhibition.
“You can come and see the boys identified in NTA’s exhibition; they carry out lots of activities in the school. They are manufacturing a lot of things. They are doing a lot and will give Nigeria the best,’’ he said.
He noted that the Ministry of Education once created some special science schools for children with special talents, saying that the initiative should be expanded to accommodate other exceptional students.
“The special children school was a good idea, but I don’t know about its implementation at the moment.
“If in such schools we discover exceptionally brilliant children, we should not frustrate them,’’ he said.
He recalled that a three-year-old child in Ghana recently recited all the states and their capitals in the country, saying that such immensely gifted individuals must be supported to excel and not held back by age considerations.
“My take is that universities should follow the minimum bench mark provided by the National Universities Commission (NUC). Anything outside that will be detrimental to educational development in the country.’’ (NAN).