Committee on Basic Education and Services, Hon. Julius Ihonvbere has warned the Federal Government to rescind its decision on the cancellation of this year’s West African Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).
Hon. Ihonvbere who gave the charge via a statement titled: ‘WASSCE Should not be cancelled,’ argued that the sudden policy reversal is not good for the country.
To this end, he urged President Muhammadu Buhari to direct all his Ministers to return to their States, work with the Governors and ensure the smooth implementation of the policy and conduct of the examination.
The House Committee on Basic Education and Services received with amazement the announcement by the Honourable Minister of Education that Nigerian students would not be participating in the forthcoming WASSCE examinations.
“He did not inform the country if this 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.
“The Minister also did not also inform the public if the decision was the outcome of a meeting with all State Governments that are in charge of all but the Unity Secondary Schools that are owned by the Federal Government.
“The Hon. Minister of State, in his usually consultative and participatory approach, had briefed the nation at the COVID-19 Presidential Committee briefing, over the airwaves and in an appearance before the House Committee on Basic Education where he assured Nigerians that all steps had or were being taken to ensure full compliance with all COVID-19 protocols.
“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, frustrate the students, and show to our development partners and Nigerians that the distortions and disarticulations in the sector are only getting worse.
“The reversal also shows that our policymakers 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,” Hon. Ihonvbere urged.
While expressed the Committee’s opposition to the unilateral decision taken on the cancellation of the examinations, Hon. Ihonvbere harped on the need to revisit the decision in the interest of the students with the view to save the educational sector from total collapse.
“The House Committee disagrees with the Honourable Minister and believes that reconsideration is urgently needed to save our educational system on the following grounds:
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.
“WAEC should quadruple its invigilators and use all classrooms and event centres to conduct the examination and comply with covid 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.
“The original plan of opening hostels for boarding to facilitate so-called revision classes should be cancelled immediately and the students should come from home, write the paper and disperse immediately,” he recommended.
The lawmaker who acknowledged the reservations of the Minister of Education on the development, however, noted that: “We are parents just like him. No Nigerian parent would want to delay, distort, even terminate the progress of their child.
“We are convinced that if our policy of no boarding house, the reconceptualising scope of exams, use of all classrooms and halls in the schools, quadrupling the number of invigilators, provision of facemasks, sanitizers and handwashing facilities are followed, the WASSCE can be conducted with ease and with no repercussions. Let us collectively save and advance our educational system and build a future we can be all proud of,” he stressed.