WASSCE 2020: I don’t mind Nigeria losing a whole school year than exposing our children to danger- MINISTER OF EDUCATION SAYS

House of Reps, Education Ministry, WAEC meet over 2020 WASSCE  Nigeria’s House of Representatives Committee on Basic Education, the Ministry of Education and the West Africa Examination Council, WAEC, have met to seek appropriate examination date to conduct the 2020 West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination, WASSCE.

The stakeholders however agreed that if they were to make the September date for the Examination a reality, there is need to get President Muhammadu Buhari and the Governors’ Forum involved in coming up with a timely and effective decision.

They agreed that in the interest of the 1.6 million candidates registered for the West African School Certificate Examinations, there was a need to agree on a date for the regional examination as time was running out for the country.

One of the options was to find a date acceptable and immediate as the head of WAEC National office in Nigeria, Patrick Areghan revealed that it takes quite a while to print question papers and that other convoluted logistic considerations might come into play.

Areghan said that Ghana had wanted to have the examination in June, because its an election year in the country, but shelved it because of Nigeria.

He also revealed that it took a presidential directive for the Gambia to shelve its desire to have the examination before now. So, according to him, Nigeria should decide on if it wants to give its candidates what he called a COVID-19 exam certificate or a WAEC Certificate in concert with the other countries.

According to him, getting parents to pay another set of fees might be difficult if the September date is missed, warning that if the November option is considered, “someone has to pick the bills.”

The permanent secretary ministry of Education, Arc. Sonny Echono said that WAEC is one of institutions that espouses regional cooperation and having a stand-alone examination will defeat the element of unity it portrays.

The Minister of state for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba reminded the members and all present that the decision they are to make was for an examination date and not resumption of schools in the country.

The members deliberated on if Nigeria could use its power as provider of about 60 percent of the finances in WAEC to dictate a date of its liking. But stakeholders present eventually agreed that it’s better to be democratic in arriving at a decision.

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of  Education, Sunny Ezhimo, told the committee that it is possible to conduct the examination in the 19, 000 centres for the over  1.6 candidates within one week but lack of funds is limiting the possibility of running the examination within a stipulated time especially in this pandemic situation.

The National Head, WAEC, Nigeria, Patrick Areghan advised that Nigeria should not take a decision as a big brother nation on behalf of the other West African countries to fix a time for the examination as it would be better for the decision to be democratic by involving other member countries of WAEC.

The committee and all the other key players agreed that it would be better to include the President and the governors’ forum in the effort to make the date a reality.

the West African Examination Council (WAEC) had also started consultations with West African nations on a possibility of shifting dates.

“We are still meeting with parents over the decision of the Ministry. What the Minister said reflects the true position of the Ministry; we are not confident yet that everywhere is safe, the numbers from the NCDC are still alarming and we have put this before parents and all the stakeholders in the the Education ecosystem, we are still meeting with them. In fact, there’s a stakeholders’ meeting convened for Monday.

“WAEC on its own part is also negotiating with other West African countries to look at possible shift in date. Once they are through with that meeting and hopefully when we are through with the consultation with stakeholders, if there’s any change in the Ministry’s position, we will communicate, but as it stands, the position of the Honourable Minister, as communicated to you last week, remains the position of the Ministry until further evidence to the contrary or further agreements that may alter those arise,” Nwajiuba said.

The Federal Government has put on hold the planned resumption of federal schools.

It has also stopped students from participating in the West African Senior School Certificate Examinations earlier scheduled for August 3 to September 5.

The minister said federal schools would remain closed until it is safe to reopen them.

He also urged state governments that have announced school resumption plans to rescind such.

According to our informant umerah Raphael a Top presidential aide Tolu Ogunlesi made this known via a thread of tweets on his Twitter handle.

Adamu stated that the West African Examinations Council could not determine the resumption date of schools for Nigeria.

He said he would prefer that Nigerian students lose an academic year than to expose them to heath dangers amid the coronavirus pandemic.

It is not yet known if WAEC will suspend the exams as the minister advised or whether state governments will follow the advice of the federal government. At the moment, the direct only applies to the secondary schools under the control of the federal government, that is, the unity schools.

Speaking on the effect the decision to keep schools closed could have on final year secondary school students, due to write the WAEC, Adamu said Nigeria would not open the schools yet, not even for the WAEC, which is a regionally control programme.

He, however debunked an earlier report, which claimed that the Minister of State for Education, Hon. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, announced August 4, 2020, as resumption date for schools, saying the Minister was misquoted. Unity Schools  students won’t write 2020 WAEC.

“I don’t know whether you journalists are misquoting the Minister of State for Education or maybe quoting what WAEC said and made it into a story.

“Our schools will only open when we believe it’s safe for our children and that is when the situation is right, not when the incidence of the infection is going up in the nation. I just want to make it clear.

“We will not open soon for examination or for any reason, unless it is safe for our children, even WAEC.

Yesterday we called on stakeholders who will tell us the situation and the way it should be done for it to be safe. Nigerian students won’t write 2020 WAEC

While the meeting was going on, WAEC announced that they are starting examinations. Let’s see who they are going to start with.

I think it is not safe. I feel responsible for all children, not just those who are in federal government controlled schools. Please let’s save our children from this.

“One infected child is enough to infect a whole class. When they close from class they go into the dormitory, this is not the right time to open schools. I appeal to the states that have already announced to reconsider it”, he said.

When asked if Nigeria will be the only country to miss out of the WAEC examinations, he said “me as Minister of Education, if I’m given the chance, I don’t mind Nigeria losing a whole school year than exposing our children to danger. WAEC is a parastatal of the Ministry of Education, they cannot determine for the government what it does”, he said.

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