By Adesina Wahab
State governments in the country have been told not to go ahead and enrol their schools in this year’s West African Senior Secondary School Examination. WASSCE, if the Federal Government-owned schools are not going to take part in same.
If they go ahead, according to the Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, and the National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria, NAPTAN, it will not only distort the education sector but will also create chaos that may be very difficult to remediate.
The National Treasurer of NUT, Mr. Segun Raheem, and the National President of NAPTAN, Haruna Danjuma, said this in separate chats with Vanguard.
Raheem said there was a stakeholders’ meeting with the Federal Ministry of Education and other government agencies concerned with the COVID-19 pandemic in which NUT was present, and where it was agreed that anything that would lead to chaos should be avoided.
He said: “We all know that education is on the Concurrent List in the Constitution and that is why when the Federal Government said its schools would not open now, and advised the state governments to key into that, NUT has asked every state chapter to look into the peculiarities of their states and be guided accordingly.
“Some states have gone far in preparing their terminal students for their final examinations. I am from Lagos State and I can say boldly that the Commissioner for Education has done a lot in this respect.
“However, schools cannot be reopened unless it is safe to do so. Before the pandemic got to this level, the NCDC said each state should prepare at least 300-bed isolation centre. How many states were able to do that?
“We have to be careful not to use our children as laboratory rats. If the affected students sit for WASSCE now, will they be admitted to the university immediately? No.
“Some countries reopened schools and shut them down almost immediately. It is not appropriate that some states will sit for WASSCE and others will not.”
Raheem also noted that it would not be proper to compare Nigeria with other member-states of the West African Examinations Council, WAEC, saying the countries were not up to four states in Nigeria in terms of population.
While empathising with private school owners and teachers, the NUT National Treasurer opined that it would be in the best interest of all if schools are reopened in a safe environment.
NAPTAN National President, Danjuma, in his opinion, said even if it is the National Examinations Council, NECO, solely owned by Nigerian, nobody should contemplate some states sitting for WASSCE, while others would not.
His words: “WAEC is an international body and the examination it conducts is recognised globally. It won’t be appropriate for it to handle examination for a few states and others won’t take part.
“I advise state governments to liaise with the Federal Government and do the needful. I also hope the Federal Government would have a rethink about the issue, too.”
Recall that the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, after the Federal Executive Council meeting last Wednesday, said the government was not in support of WASSCE holding from early next month, as announced by WAEC.
Also, Oyo State has reopened schools for terminal students and said it was ready to allow its students to write WASSCE if WAEC is to conduct it as planned.
Ekiti State is also planning to reopen its schools for final year students next week.
Meanwhile, the 19 northern states have declared their support for the Federal Government over its decision to suspend this year’s WASSCE.
A communique by the Kaduna State Commissioner for Education, Dr Shehu Markafi, at the end of a virtual meeting of the commissioners, contained the position of the states.