The West African Examinations Council (WAEC) has made wearing of face masks mandatory for all candidates sitting for its forthcoming school-based 2020 West African Senior School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE), which is to commence on August 3.

A total of 1,549,463 candidates comprising 786, 420 males and 763, 042 females from a total of 19, 129 schools nationwide would sit for the exam.

The Head of National Office of the organisation in Nigeria, Mr Patrick Areghan, made the disclosure at a news conference held at WAEC headquarters in Yaba, Lagos on Tuesday.

He said the period of the exam which would end on Saturday, September 3, with each candidate has an option of writing a maximum of nine out of a total 76 available subjects is a delicate one as COVID-19 pandemic is still raging.

“So, we must all protect ourselves and people around us to curb the spread of the virus in the country,” he stressed. “And that is why the conduct of the exam must follow all the government’s guidelines and protocols including socialphysical distancing and the wearing of face masks by all the candidates and every other person that would be at the exam venues.

“All schools are also expected to provide thermometer hand-gun, wash- hand buckets with running water, soaps, sanitisers and so forth for use at the exam venues.

Areghan however, lamented what he called the huge cost that WAEC would now conduct the exam, saying it is triple of the original budget prior to COVID-19 just because of the increased logistics and the numbers of supervisors and venues as there is an upsurge in workers and personal protective equipment needed to have a hitch-free exam.

He asked for the support of both the federal and various state government as well as corporate bodies and individuals to come to the aid of WAEC by donating such items as sanitisers, face masks and other required as safety measures at any of their offices nationwide.

He said the time-table for the exam was fixed by all the five members countries and not by Nigeria alone and done after due consultation with the respective government.

He also said the exam would have lasted nine weeks as the previous editions but fused into five in order to make room for other examination bodies to conduct their own exams in good time.

Areghan however, warned all schools and candidates as well as parents to shun all form of malpractice nor patronising dubious website operators who usually claim to have question paper ahead of time in their disposal.

“We cannot claim not to know that they are already strategising on their evil machinations to defraud the unsuspecting public, and therefore steer clear of their dubious activities,” he noted.

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