A total of 70,603 candidates, on Saturday, sat for the 2024 National Common Entrance Examination, NCEE, conducted by the National Examinations Council, NECO, into the 110 Unity Colleges nationwide.

Registrar of NECO, Prof Dantani Wushishi, disclosed this while monitoring the exercise on Saturday, at Model Secondary School, Maitama and Government Day Secondary School, Wuse 2 Abuja, adding that the examination was conducted in 599 centres across the country.

While giving a breakdown of candidates’ participation by gender, Wushishi said 33,335 males registered for the 2024 NCEE, while 37,268 females registered for the exercise totalling 70,603.

He lamented that the 2024 registration was lower than that of 2023 which had 34,064 males and 38,801 females, totalling 72,865.

Data released by the council showed that Lagos came top with the highest number of candidates, totalling 17,751, while FCT came second with 10,209 candidates and Anambra in third place with 4,972 candidates.

Bayelsa, Borno and Gombe had the least number of candidates participating in the exercise, after registering only 133, 138 and 174 candidates respectively.

The NECO boss attributed the low registration in 2024 to economic factors as the exam body had slightly raised the registration fee and parents, who are grappling the effect of the economy, were responsible for sponsoring candidates at this level.

“For the males and females, last year’s registration was higher than this year’s registration this could be attributed to so may factors; economic factor is the most prevalent factor that maybe could hinder this large registration,” he said.

Wushishi also refuted claims of NECO registering underage children for the National Common Entrance Examination, clarifying that students participating in the examination were either 10 years old or left with a month or two to be 10.

On her part, the Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Education, Mrs. Didi Walson-Jack, who gave a general assessment of the conduct of the exercise, expressed satisfaction with what NECO has put in place to ensure a smooth and seamless exercise.

Walson-Jack disclosed that there were 55 centres writing the NCE in the FCT, stating that everything went on smoothly and students were placed in conducive examination halls to sit for the exercise.

Also speaking, the Chairman Senate Committee on Education, Basic and Secondary, Sen. Lawal Adamu, said he rolled out NECO and JAMB sponsorship in the state and contributed over N250 million for parents to be able to pay for NECO and JAMB examinations.

Adamu, who also called on National Assembly members to provide an educational foundation for every child in their constituencies, lauded NECO for the smooth conduct of the exercise.