The House of Representatives has called on the Federal Government to reverse its decision to cancel the WASSCE examination for Nigerian students in the 2020 examination year.
The position of the House was made known through its Committee on Basic Education and Services chaired by Hon. Julius Ihonvbere.
In a position statement issued and made available to journalists in Abuja on Friday, the Committee said it received with “amazement” the announcement of the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu indicating that Nigerian students will not be taking part in the regional examination in the year 2020.
“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,” the statement read.
Going further, the Committee reminded the federal government that it was wrong to unilaterally take such a “policy reversal” without consultation with other critical stakeholders within the education sector. The Committee believed that the decision of the government would rather exacerbate the confusion in the education sector, including state governments and private school operators.
The House insisted that the federal government should reverse the decision and rather come up with more robust and practical strategies that will not jeopardize the future of the education sector as well of that of Nigerian students. The committee believes that if the government did not reverse its decision it would send wrong signals to the public and development partners as the cancelation will have fare reaching impact on the perception of the Nigerian education system.
The House, therefore called on the federal government to galvanize all its resources and adopt a multi-sectoral approach to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the education sector and ensure that Nigerian students join their counterparts in the West African sub-region to take part in the examination.
“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 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.
The statement reads:
“The House Committee disagrees with the Honourable Minister and believes that a 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:
“ Mr. President should 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 appreciates the reservations of the Honourable Minister of Education. 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, re-conceptualising scope of exams, use of all classrooms and halls in the schools, quadrupling the number of invigilators, provision of facemasks, sanitizers and hand washing 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.