No cause for alarm say NUT, NAPTAN, NAPPS
By Adesina Wahab
STUDENTS, parents, teachers, even school owners heaved a sigh of relief penultimate week when the Federal Government reconsidered its decision not to allow Nigerian candidates take this year’s West African Secondary School Certificate Examination, WASSCE, to be administered by the West African Examinations Council, WAEC, at the same time the body proposed to do so in order member-states of the Council.
Their relief was because the FG had done policy somersault on the holding of the examination about two weeks earlier. Though WAEC is not the only examinations body saddled with the responsibility of testing final year secondary school students in the country, it is, however, the oldest and the most respected.
Other prominent agencies doing the same thing are the National Examinations Council, NECO, and the National. Business and Technical Examinations Board, NABTEB. But both operate within Nigeria only.
With schools shut down for over four months, many are of the view that the students have become academically rusty, as there is no way that one can compare learning and teaching environment found in a school to reading and studying at home, probably all alone.
Now, with the examination bodies setting the timetables for their exams to hold and starting with WAEC’s WASSCE on August 17, 2020, there are fears in some quarters that the students may not do well. Those saying this point to a number of factors namely; psychological factor, lack of preparedness on the part of students, new seating arrangement brought about by safety protocols to safeguard against COVID-19 among others. For Johnson Akinleye, the two weeks given for revision before the kick-off of the examination is not enough. “I am a parent as well as a teacher in a public secondary school, but from my interactions with the students in the first week of resumption, I observed that many of them did not use the period of the lockdown to continue preparing for the coming exams. Recall that it was about three weeks before WASCCE would have commenced that the lockdown began.
“Those who appeared to initially continue preparations for the exams got tired when the lockdown extended to months. Though some states embarked on radio and television teaching of some subjects, especially the core subjects, but one cannot compare that to real time teaching. The students need to be psyched up. Also, we must not deceive ourselves, the new arrangement of seating six feet or two metres apart in the examination halls may disorganise some candidates. All these may adversely affect their results in the end.”
However, the National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria, NAPTAN, through its National President, Haruna Danjuma, has an optimistic view.
“Whoever is thinking that our candidates may not perform well in the WASSCE needs to know how the system works. The students had sat for the Mock Exam before the lockdown and closure of schools. The exam was to prepare them for WASSCE and those who did well in that will do better in WASSCE.
“Some of them sat for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations, UTME, conducted by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, and made great impact and are only waiting for WASCCE to get O’Level results for varsity admission. There is no reason to fear. If a student truly sat for the Mock Exam and UTME and did well in both cases, there is no need to fear.
“I know they have been at home for some months. The only thing they need to do is to revise for WASCCE and do well. The parents should be confident in their wards and students should be confident in themselves,” he said.
NUT sure of good performance
The Lagos State Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, Otunba Adesina Adedoyin, believes that the results would be good.
“Well, it is not unusual that some parents and concerned citizens are entertaining such fears. They probably hinged that on the fact that the students stayed at home for some months without doing anything. In Lagos State, we did a lot of work during the lockdown.
“It is not when an exam approaches that you begin to prepare for it. Lagos made strenuous efforts to prepare the students during the lockdown. The state embarked on serious e-learning and the use of radio and television. A wise student should have seen taking the exam as a task and prepare for it and parents ought to have helped such a student. I am optimistic that our students in Lagos State will do well.
The National President of the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools, NAPPS, Chief Yomi Otubela, opined that his members did not fold their arms during the lockdown, but seriously prepared their final-year students for the task ahead.
“The students sat for the Mock Exam before the lockdown. During the lockdown, we engaged our students productively. Schools were using a lot of means to get across to their students. Some used WhatsApp, Success Box, Mobile Class, Google Classroom, all sorts of online and e-learning methods. The two weeks before the start of the examination is for them to revise.
“Those entertaining fears about the seating arrangement occasioned by social distancing have nothing to fear. The seating arrangement is not new to the various examination bodies. It is always obtainable in exams conducted by WAEC, NECO, NABTEB and others. It is also not different from what we prepare in our exam halls. Before now, candidates sit four to five feet apart and social distancing only increased it to six feet apart.
“Any school going against such seating arrangement should be sanctioned. The Quality Assurance Department of the Ministry of Education should descend on such schools,” he stated.