The West African Examinations Council (WAEC) responded to the federal government ‘s sudden U-turn on the resumption of schools across the country, and its earlier announcement of the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) dates for the start of the May / June 2020 diet.
The national oversight body said that making these decisions falls within the valid powers of the five-member governments.
In an exclusive telephone interview with PREMIUM TIMES, Patrick Areghan, WAEC ‘s Head of Nigeria ‘s Office (HNO), said the investigating body was still assessing the situation and that it would soon be making its stance known.
Mr Areghan, who came into office in March 2020, was expected to oversee the May / June 2020 study, the first national examination under his watch before the coronavirus pandemic struck, causing the examination to be postponed indefinitely. The HNO said he was unable to talk about whether or not the exams would start in the other four countries until the
“coast is clear.”
He said; “We cannot make any categorical statement for now. We are operating in five-member countries and we cooperate with the government. We recognise the fact that the government has the right and power to take positions, and we cannot confront the government. We work hand in hand with the government.”
Nevertheless, he vowed to inform the public once final decisions have been made.
Role of minister
Nigeria’s education minister, Adamu Adamu, had declared on Wednesday the reversal of the government’s earlier stance on the resumption of classrooms, saying the environment in the country is still dangerous for teaching and learning.
The minister also said no Nigerian school would participate in the earlier scheduled WASSCE to be held from 5 August to 5 September.
During a media briefing on July 6, State Minister for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, announced the examination will now take place between August 4 and September 5.
Talking to State House correspondents at the end of Wednesday ‘s meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari, Mr Adamu said Nigerian schools would not reopen any time soon “until it is safe to do so because of the COVID-19 pandemic”.
He said that, contrary to the earlier announcement, final year students preparing for the Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE) will not be allowed back to school.
Mr Adamu said the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) would not be able to decide the date for Nigeria ‘s schools to reopen.
He said he’d like to “Nigerian students lose an academic year than to expose them to dangers.” “Schools under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Education will not reopen on August 4th or any time soon. Our schools will only open when we believe it is safe for our children and that is when the situation is right, not when the number of COVID-19 infection is going up in the nation. So, I just want to make that clear,” Mr Adamu said. He said the government won’t reopen schools now for examinations or other purposes
“unless it is safe for our students because WAEC cannot determine for us what we do so schools will remain closed.”
“Yesterday, we called a meeting of stakeholders to tell us their situation and what needs to be done in order to reopen schools but while the meeting was going on, WAEC announced that they will start exams so let’s see who they are going to start with,” he said.
The minister appealed to schools to revoke their places that have already reopened.
He also said that governments that have already declared that their schools will be reopened would reconsider “because it is not safe for schools to open.”
He said, “I feel responsible for the children in Nigeria not just those in federal government-controlled schools. Please let us save our children from the pandemic.
“You can look at this scenario; just one infected child going into a class can infect everyone in the class and after classes, they go back to the hostel. Because children cannot observe social distancing as expected. If one child in the hostel is infected, the next morning everybody will be infected so this is not the right time to open schools.” He clarified that what he said at the day’s cabinet meeting was not part of resolutions “but he needed to clear the air on the matter.” He said that all requirements must be followed, and schools must be decontaminated before reopening.