Candidates writing the 2021 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) have called on the government and other stakeholders to strengthen the security around schools so as not to jeopardise the quest for education.
The candidates were expressing their concerns in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) shortly after day one of the examinations in some centres visited in Lagos.
NAN reports that about 1.5 candidates registered for the examination organised by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), which would be conducted in 758 centres across the country.
Miss Emmanuela Onah, who said she hoped to study Medicine at the Babcock University in Ogun, said that she was looking forward to an excellent performance at the examination.
Onah is, however, worried about the increasing level of insecurity bedeviling the country.
According to her, the increasing attack on schools is becoming worrisome and could affect the zeal for the quest for knowledge acquisition among children of school age.
Another candidate, Chidera Mbagwu, remarked that education was the right of every child and, therefore, the need for government to do everything possible to improve facilities and other learning aids in schools, especially the universities and polytechnics.
She noted that constant attacks on schools by gunmen must be confronted headlong if the country must realise its quest for accelerated development.
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Hoping to study Law, Mbagwu was optimistic that the issue of security in the country generally would improve soon in order to restore normalcy in every sector of the economy.
“Right now, I have just taken the examination but my hope and prayer is for all these kidnappings and killings, both in and outside school environment, to stop because it is threatening our existence as a people and dampening our quest for higher learning,’’ she said.
Paula Wilson, another candidate who sat for the examination, emphasised the need for governments at both the state and local government levels, to partner the Federal Government in building skills acquisition centres in all schools across the country.
According to Wilson, who equally wished to study Medicine, said that there was the need for students to start looking inward and embrace critical thinking to discover their God given skills for a secured future.
“For me, I think gone are such days when people used to rely heavily on their academic qualifications to make it in life.
“All that have changed now, going by the situations we find ourselves in now.
“I want to urge governments, at all levels, to assist us in the direction of skills so that we can engage ourselves meaningfully and be able to fend for ourselves, without waiting for any job opportunity.
“This, to my belief, will go a long way in reducing poverty, unemployment, restiveness and other vices among youths,’’ she stated.