The House Committee on Basic Education and Services on Friday said the 2020 West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE) should not be cancelled in Nigeria.
The Chairman of the committee, Julius Ihonvbere (APC-Edo), made the committee’s position known in a statement in Abuja. Mr Ihonvbere, a professor, said the committee was amazed at the announcement by the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, where he stated that Nigerian students would not be participating in the 2020 WASSCE.
The lawmaker said the minister did not inform the country if the position was in agreement with other West African leaders or in consultation with the examination bodies, the state governments and other stakeholders in the education sector. Mr Ihonvbere said he recalled that the minister of state for education had on several occasions during live press conferences by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, assured Nigerians that all steps were being taken to ensure full compliance with all COVID-19 protocols in schools.
“This sudden policy reversal is not good for the country; it is bound to create further confusion in the education sector, create disappointment and suspicion among parents, and frustrate the students. “It would show our development partners and Nigerians that the distortions and disarticulations in the sector are only getting worse.
“The reversal also shows that our policy makers may just be adopting a laid-back approach to the need to confront the novel coronavirus rather than taking proactive and creative steps to manage and contain it,” he said. The lawmaker disagreed with the minister, saying that a reconsideration was urgently needed to save the educational system in the country.
“Nigeria is not the only country expected to write the examination in the midst of COVID-19; Nigeria should insist that the examination be based exclusively on the already covered syllabus of schools.
“The Federal Ministry should not chicken out of its responsibilities, but take charge, provide policy direction, engage the states and other stakeholders. “We recommend that WAEC quadruple its invigilators and use all classrooms and event centres to conduct the examination and comply with COVID-19 protocols.
“The Ministry of Science and Technology as well as the Ministries of Environment and Health should immediately work out an agenda to fumigate all classrooms, provide handwashing buckets with soap and water, and facemasks to all students.
“Students should come from home, write the paper and disperse immediately,” he said. He urged President Muhammadu Buhari to direct all ministers to return to their states to work with the governors to ensure smooth implementation of the policy and conduct of the examination.
According to the legislator, “we are parents just like the minister and no Nigerian parent would want to delay, distort, even terminate the progress of any child.” He said that the committee was convinced that if the recommendations were implemented, the WASSCE could be conducted with ease and with no repercussions.