Academic City College, a private university in Accra, Ghana, has offered $40,000 scholarship to Ekene Franklin Ezeunala.
Ekene scored 347 – the highest score – in the 2019 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME).
But he will not be allowed into Nigeria’s federal and state varsities because of an age-related rule.
The College Senior Admissions Manager (Nigeria), Mrs Ogechi Ekpe, said on the sidelines of a workshop organised by the institution for schools and parents at the Sheraton Hotel, Ikeja, at the weekend that the scholarship would cover tuition and boarding for the duration of his programme at the university.
“We have a full scholarship for Ekene. He was supposed to be here today (Friday) but we did not talk about the scholarship today because he was not here. We were to present a scholarship of $40,000 to the boy from year one till he graduates,” she said.
When asked how Ekene would be informed about the scholarship since he was not at the event, Mrs Ekpe said: “We were hoping he would be here today so our President can give him the award. The school is here now. We have to go there and see if we can either take him to Ghana or get our President to come again and give him the scholarship. The scholarship is for real. It is called the Presidential Scholarship so the school pays everything including the hostel fees.”
Ekene, who turns 15 today (Monday), is below 16, the minimum age benchmark to gain admission into his preferred choice – the University of Lagos (UNILAG).
The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), also stipulates 16 years as the minimum age for candidates to take the examination during the admission year they apply. However, many private varsities in Nigeria accept students who are less than 16.
Mrs. Ekpe said that Academic City College, which offers programmes in Engineering, Business, Communication Arts and Information Technology, accepts students from 15 years of age because it has system in place to monitor them.
She said: “That is why we want him there. Nigerian schools won’t give him admission but we will. We start admitting from 15 which is why we have a very visible Dean of Students’ Affairs. We make sure that they go to class, especially foreign students. You cannot be in the hostel during learning hours. Dean Ruth, that is her name, she normally goes round.
“There are parents that pay for their kids to be off campus but all international students must be on campus because we don’t want them to have immigration issues; we don’t want them to go off track and start doing drugs. We actually insist that in the first year at least they must be on campus.”
The Ghanaian institution became the second institution to announce a full scholarship to Ekene, who just completed his West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) at Meiran Community Senior High School, Meiran, Lagos.
The first was Gregory University, Uturu in Abia State.