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13 years old in KNUST: GES silence isn’t golden

By Isaac Kyei Ando

Ruth Ama Gyan-Darkwa, the 13years old KNUST student

Primary school starting age according to Ghana Education Service is supposed to be at least 6 years if the child has gone through the pre-primary education stage.

In view of the required starting point for pupils, the normal age of students after completing nine years of Basic Education (Primary to

JHS) is expected to be at least 15 and 18 years after completion of SHS.

At 18 years, a person is considered to be an adult and therefore given the freedom to make decisions that include marrying, dating, voting and even being denied parental support without parents guilty of the law.

This is why there are not many restrictive measures in the University because everyone admitted is deemed to be old enough to take control of their lives.

On the contrary, students in Senior High Schools require permission to go out of campus; they can be dismissed or suspended for engaging in sexual activities on campus and for doing things that are meant for people of age which is at least 18 years in this case.

Last week, it was reported that KNUST had admitted a 13 year old (name withheld because she is a minor) to pursue BSc Degree in Mathematics

The news was received with excitement in many quarters and so the obviously proud father of this prodigy indicated that his younger son will break his sister’s record.

It is also reported that her sister, who also attended the same university at a tender age, will graduate next year at the age of 18.

There’s no doubt that it is a remarkable feat for the young lady at that age to make it to the University  and so I wasn’t surprised when social media responded with praise for her.

My worry though withher development and the bad precedence this practice is likely to lay down if not condemned by managers of our education.

There’s a good reason why starting age was factored into primary education.

Being five years ahead of the scheduled time provided by GES is cheating the system but that is not my greatest worry.

I am worried for the kid who finds herself in the University because emotionally, that is not the right environment for her development. At 13, she is now getting grasp of her puberty development and a lot of things that has to do with her physical, emotional and psychological and social development. She deserves to go through this with her age mates and grow in an environment where she can be thought, guided and dealt with as the kid that she is.

University education is for adults. It is meant for people who can be trusted to take care of themselves and make good independent decisions.

Education is not only about passing exams and moving to the next level. It is about life in its entirety.

How is it possible for her to live a normal life, play with friends, talk about the changes in her body and have a normal life like everyone else when in the name of completing school early, she’s had to live most part of her life with mates who treat her as a kid and not friends.

Being at the University at 13, how is she going to deal with seeing her mates going out to the club, dating and doing things according to their age.

All her life, she has been made to live like an examination passing machine and it can have a very bad effect on her.

This is why I see the push she got to jump the stages a massive abuse of her fundamental human right and should be condemned.

Truth is that if every parent decides to cheat the system and jump their kids, we will have many 13 year olds or even younger in the university.

My question though: is that what we want for this country? What is the rush in life for?

As the father of the girl takes the praise and working hard to make his son better the record, he should look back at his days in school, the moments he had with his friends, how they played together and lived life in the comfort of likeminded people and look at the experience he is depriving the innocent kids of.

Ghana Education Service should make their position clear on the matter because as the regulators of our education, bypassing the laid down procedure should not be the new way of doing things.

Many parents will be learning from these examples, they need to know that it is not the best practice.

Completing university education 5 years ahead of her mates doesn’t not in any way mean that she will be five years ahead of them in life.

20 years from now when the current 13 year olds have completed their University education about 10 years prior through the normal procedure, there will be a number of them who will be doing better jobs and possibly with better qualifications than this lady has. Life is not a race.

It is sad that her development as a child was not factored into the decision to push her five years ahead of the laid down age with little care about how it is going to affect her development.

At KNUST, she will be treated as an adult and be exposed to things that are not meant for her age group.

It is not fair to put a 13 year old in a position where she’s required to live like 18 years.

About Isaac Kyei Andoh