The Federal Government has assured parents of adequate security in the 110 unity schools across the country, saying the colleges are more secured than most schools.
Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Sonny Echono, gave the assurance during the supervision of this year’s national common entrance examination into unity schools on Saturday in Abuja.
Echono said 77, 000 candidates sat for the examination in 417 centres nationwide.
Of this figure, the permanent secretary said only 30, 000 would be admitted.
Some schools in some parts of the north have come under attacks leading to the kidnapping of students.
Echono said: “We have also changed the format. We want to enforce the idea of a national character. Going forward, we are going to make students to at least make six options – one in each geo-political zone. We want to encourage parents to allow their children to travel to other parts of the country.
“We know there are security challenges and we know there are inhibitions but we are working assiduously towards that. The government has been very kind to the sector and the National Assembly has continued to appropriate funds for us to provide security infrastructure in our schools.
“The federal schools are actually more secured than others and we can assure you that when your kids are with us we will do everything possible. We have three layers of security we have established for all the unity colleges. While we do not discriminate amongst schools you will see that we have not had any incidents in the federal schools.”
The permanent secretary commended the Zamfara state government for having 4, 000 candidates this year.
The state had been the least with enrolled candidates for the examination in the past.
He said: “We have a total of 77, 000 candidates sitting for this examination. There are more girls sitting for this than boys; this is a trend we need to monitor.
“Some of the traditional states that we usually get numbers (of high enrollment figures), some are falling behind but we have a spectacular case of Zamfara. As I told you last year, we were surprised that Zamfara was able to move up.
“Zamfara, apart from our two traditional states – Lagos and Abuja, only Anambra is higher than Zamfara this year. Zamfara has over 4,000 candidates; Anambra has 5, 000. Zamfara is fourth in the country after Lagos, FCT, and Anambra. It is the highest outside the FCT in the northern states.
“Some of the traditional northern states are falling behind. We need to also engage. We are particularly dismayed that a state like Taraba has only 113. As I said, when you have 110 schools established to foster national integration and cohesion we want to have at least one child from each state in every school so that when they have their cultural day, somebody should be able to sit and talk about his or her state. But with 113 candidates sitting; not passing, it may be difficult to achieve that in a 110 schools. We will be taking this up with the state governor.”
Echono also said the government will increase the number of the college to 115 next year to increase access.
The permanent secretary said the five additional colleges will focus on technical education.
Speaking on the carrying capacity of the colleges, he said: “Our carrying capacity has increased because we have added six additional colleges to focus on science. This year additional five are coming on stream so by the time we talk about next year’s admission we will be talking about 115 unity colleges. While we are expanding access we are now also focusing on quality with particular reference to technical education.
“We plan to increase the carrying capacity to 30, 000 to accommodate the new streams of schools. Last year it was about 25, 000-26, 000 that we were able to bring on board but that didn’t include the additional 150 that came on based on the six new schools.
“Given good performance we believe we will be able to get good candidates.”