• How nine-year-old girl braved the odds to pass WASSCE
By Cleopatra Eki
As long as the human race exists, wonders will never cease to occur. The latest wonder kid in the country is nine-year-old Miss Anjola Victoria Mautin Botoku, a pupil of Edidot School, Badore, Ajah and daughter of a Lagos Chief Magistrate, who took part of her pocket money to register for last year’s November/December WASSCE with Exam Number 5250802098.
She registered for the examination at Eti-Osa centre with the assistance of her older siblings but without her parent’s knowledge. The young girl, who likes to experiment, decided to test what it is feels like to sit for an external exam, which came as a shock and surprise to her parents.
Like a gold fish without a hiding place, Anjola passed English and French languages at credit level in a first attempt with little or no coaching at the tender age of nine. Interestingly, thousands of candidates have failed English Language at various attempts even after series of intensive coaching.
Anjolaoluwa registered as a private candidate for five subjects, namely English Language, Mathematics, French, Yoruba, Food and Nutrition, and Christian Religious Knowledge.
She sat for only two subjects, English and French, after going through some past GCE question papers, but was absent for the others because she wasn’t prepared for them. When the results were released, she scored C6 in English and C5 in French.
The excitedly beautiful girl decided to gamble with the exam without informing her parents, because her parents would not have allowed her to write the exam. The decision also caught her teachers in school by surprise. “I was aware I was underage and it was illegal but determination and curiosity took the better part of me,” she told The Guardian.
Recounting her experience, Anjola said: “I studied a lot preparing for the exam using old past question papers of GCE. Nobody was aware in my school what I was up to although what I learnt at school played a huge role, as well as the coaching from my parents. My mother was my English teacher while my father took me on French lessons.”
Her parents were only brought into the picture after her elder brothers, Babajide 17-year-old Telecommunication Engineering student in a private university and Olujuyin, 14-year-old SS 2 student of Edidot School, completed the registration for the exam.
“When I told my parents about it, they were shock and felt it was a daring joke considering my age, but I begged them to coach me for the exam. They both had degrees in English and French respectively before studying Law. My dad is a bilingual lawyer and a former French teacher.”
The Grade Six pupil, who clocked nine on September 17, 2013, said the GCE is a tough examination. But considering her level of preparation, especially in English, she was disappointed with her result, as she had expected a B2 or B3.
Anjola’s best wish is to secure scholarship into a good secondary school. “It would encourage me greatly to excel because I will feel fulfilled to have stepped into my mother’s shoes. My mum won a scholarship when she was my age. I am currently preparing for entrance examination into secondary school and would prefer Lagoon Secondary School or Atlantic Hall School.”
Among the challenges she faced sitting for the exam was the peering eyes that stared at her at the exam hall. Nobody believed she was a candidate. “Several times, I was denied access into the hall by examiners. It was the biometric test, which matched my thumbprint with the one in their system that usually saves the situation.
“Some candidates were mocking me and calling me names like ‘over-ambitious’, ‘wait for your time.’ Another challenge was when the computer rejected my original age. I burst into tears when my application was rejected. I had to falsify my age by adding five years before the application could be completed.”
Despite her love for books, Anjola has a social life. “I love dancing and have won several dancing competition at most birthday parties and social functions I attend. I like listening to musicians like Wizkid, PSquare, 2Face, Beyonce, and Rihanna. I have lots of friends and I relax by playing games on my dad’s iPad, watching television or swimming.
“In Edidot School, they usually organize French Day and Miss French pageant competition. I once won the Miss French competition. Currently, I am the Head-Girl of my school. My daddy said Paris is a beautiful city. I heard of the famous French proverb ‘See Paris and die’, and I wish to visit Paris some day.
“My dream is to be a medical doctor in future. If possible, be the youngest medical doctor in the history of Nigeria. I will continue reading and preparing for my exams, and write the GCE again when I officially attain the age of 13. This attempt was an experiment.”
Anjola decried the age limit of 13 placed by the exam body, which she said is unfair since in developed countries, young people are admitted into the university at the age of nine.
“I would like the concerned authorities to change the age limit to allow Nigerians break or set new world records. Recently, a 10-year-old Nigerian passed Microsoft professional exams; the youngest medical doctor in the world is aged 17.
“Also, the youngest professor ever, Alla Sabur, became a professor at age 18. She was an undergraduate at 10 and got her first degree at 14 from New York State University.
“My message to children of my age is for them to cultivate the reading culture, be ready to learn and show seriousness in the studies because having the right attitude is better than hard-work and knowledge.”
“I spent time with my closely-knitted family of five, with no interference of domestic staff, except my dogs. I am also an advocate of one-year exclusive breastfeeding for children.”
The girl’s mother, Mrs. Abosede Botoku, disclosed that she spent five years exclusively breastfeeding Anjola, which was possible due to the nature of her job at the time. She added that exclusive breastfeeding boosts children’s immune system and their intelligent quotient.
She described Anjola, the baby of the house among two boys, as an extrovert, hardworking, inquisitive, and talkative. “She works with less supervision at her age, even with her school assignments. She is an early riser; she sleeps at 8pm and wakes at 6am daily.”
Recalling what her teacher said about Anjola, Abosede said: “Her teacher described her as a blessing to her parents who is ahead of her peers in everything. She has a zeal and knack for everything she puts her heart into. In school, she is nicknamed Genius or Brain Box. She also possess an excellent leadership skills at her age.”