The House of Representatives Committee on Basic Education and Services says it received with amazement the announcement by the Honourable Minister of Education that Nigerian students would not be participating in the forthcoming WASSCE examinations.
Chairman of the committee, Professor Julius Ihunvbere who disclosed this in a statement said the Minister did not inform the country if this was in agreement with other West African leaders or in consultation with the examination bodies, state governments and other stakeholders in the education sector.
Prof Ihunvbere stated that the Minister 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.
According to him, the Minister of State for education, in his usual 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.
He observed that this sudden policy reversal is not good for the country, saying it is bound to create further confusion in the education sector, create disappointment and suspicion among parents, frustrate students, and show development partners and Nigerians that the distortions and disarticulations in the sector are only getting worse.
Prof Ihunvbere added that the reversal also shows that the nation’s 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.
He stated that the House disagrees with the Minister and believes that a reconsideration is urgently needed to save the nation’s educational system on the following grounds:
1. Nigeria is not the only country expected to write the examination in the midst of COVID-19;
2. Nigeria should insist that the examination be based exclusively on the already covered syllabus of schools;
3. The Federal Ministry should not chicken out of its responsibilities but take charge, provide policy direction, engage the states and other stakeholders;
4. WAEC should quadruple its invigilators and use all classrooms and event centres to conduct the examination and comply with COVID protocols;
5. 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;
6. 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:
7. 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.