Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has disagreed with the decision of the Federal Government to boycott 2020 West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) for Nigerian secondary school students due to COVID-19 fears.
The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, had on Wednesday disclosed that Nigerian schools would not reopen any time soon until it is safe to do so, noting that they will not participate in WASSCE. According to him, he would prefer that Nigerian students lose an academic year than to expose them to danger.
But in a statement he personally signed on Friday, Atiku stated that the cancellation of the examination for Nigerian students is not in the best interest of the country.
Describing the decision as a setback, the former presidential candidate noted that the action will further create chaos in the public education system.
Atiku urged government to prevail on WAEC to have staggered examinations with a different set of questions for each shift to give room for physical distancing.
“As a parent and investor in the education sector, I wish to register that the Nigerian government’s policy of unilaterally cancelling the West African Senior School Certificate Examination, held annually by the West African Examinations Council, is not in Nigeria’s best interest,” he said.
“At a time of the global COVID19 pandemic, it is understandable that an abundance of caution be put in place to save lives. However, caution, without consultation, and thoughtful action, may be counterproductive.
“1.5 million Nigerian youths write the West African Senior School Certificate Examination annually. To abruptly cancel this examination is to set back our nation’s youth, and place them behind their contemporaries in other West African countries.
“This is perilous because Foreign Direct Investments and other economic indicators are tied to the educational indexes of nations.
“Already, Nigeria lags behind other African nations in crucial indices, like school enrolment, pass rates, and out of school children. This action will further create chaos in the public education system and exacerbate an already bad situation.
“Rather than cancellation, there are better ways to protect the health of Nigerians and prevent the pandemic from escalating.
“We could mobilise all available public & private infrastructures, including primary schools, stadia, and cinemas, for the examinations. In the alternative, the Federal Government can prevail on WAEC to have staggered examinations with a different set of questions for each shift.
“Doing so will allow WAEC Nigeria to implement social distancing and achieve the goal of carrying out the examinations. A win-win scenario.
“I urge this administration to take into account that the lives they are trying to save will be further put at risk, because if this policy is not reversed, tens of thousands, and possibly hundreds of thousands of Nigerians, will breach social distancing rules to cross over to neighbouring West African nations to write their WASSCE, rather than miss a year.”