There were strong indications on Wednesday that some state governments were on a collision course with the Federal Government over their pupils’ participation in the 2020 West African Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination.
Investigations by The PUNCH showed that six South-West states, Ebonyi and Cross River states had started preparing to recall their pupils in preparation for the examination.
The plan contradicts the decision of the Federal Government, which after the Federal Executive Council meeting on July 8, said it had suspended the plan to recall graduating pupils for WASSCE.
On Monday, there was confusion over the resumption as the Federal Ministry of Education issued guidelines for the reopening of schools, but failed to indicate the resumption date.
Before the Federal Government’s decision at the July 8 FEC meeting, the National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr Sani Aliyu, at the PTF press conference on June 29, had said, “Pupils in graduating classes – only graduating classes; Primary 6, JSS 3 and SSS3 – will be allowed to resume in preparation for examinations.”
Amid the confusion at the federal level, some state governments on Wednesday began preparations for their pupils to sit for WASSCE.
S’West states ready to allow pupils to sit for WASSCE – DAWN
The Development Agenda for Western Nigeria said the South-West states had signified their readiness to allow their pupils to sit for the 2020 WASSCE.
The Director General of DAWN, Seye Oyeleye, in a statement he issued on Wednesday, said the decision was part of the resolutions made by the state governments at the end of an online meeting initiated on Tuesday by the commission.
The meeting was held in collaboration with the forum of South-West education commissioners, special advisers on education and the state universal basic education board chairmen.More in Home
According to the statement, the meeting was premised on the need to jointly agree on modalities for the 2020 WASSCE, resumption of schooling activities for the Senior Secondary School 3 pupils and other allied matters.
It stated, “The forum, after careful deliberations, considering peculiarities of each state and options available reached a consensus on the subject matters and expresses thus: On WASSCE; state commissioners for education have signified readiness to enrol pupils for the 2019/2020 examination.”
S’West proposes August 3 as resumption date for SSS3
It explained that considering the peculiarities of each state, the forum reached a consensus that at least by August 3, the SSS3 pupils should resume.
States to approach FG, WAEC for postponement of exam by three weeks
The forum added, “States should approach the Federal Government at the first instance seeking the postponement of the WASSCE by at least three weeks from the proposed resumption. At the second instance, states should directly approach WAEC (the West African Examinations Council) to seek for an extension of the WASSCE, to week commencing August 24.”
The forum added that all schools when reopening should have in place incident managers and that wardens should be appointed for every classroom.
It added that there would be “an intense advocacy campaigns of the stakeholders – parents, teachers, caregivers, proprietress/head teachers, and the pupils – on what is expected of them when schools resume.”
The state governments also urged WAEC to encourage the use of computer-based tests while each state should deliberately intensify efforts and invest more in education technology.
On his part, the Special Adviser to Governor Ben Ayade on Education, Castro Ezama, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said, “Very soon the pupils will resume. We are concluding arrangements for that to happen. We have not fixed a date yet.”
Also, the Ebonyi State Government said schools would be opened in the state between August and September.
The state Governor, David Umahi, stated this on Wednesday, during a virtual meeting of the executive council in Abakaliki, the state capital.
According to Umahi, reopening of schools in the state would be done in phases.
Umahi said, “The public should note that Ebonyi State will reopen her schools immediately, not in the month of July, we have to start the process that will lead us probably to reopen our schools between August and September.”
Imo, Delta discussing with parents, other stakeholders
On its part, the Imo State Government said that it was consulting with the stakeholders in the education sector as well as parents on the best guidelines to adopt before recalling pupils for WASSCE.
The Senior Special Assistant to the stategovernor on print media, Modestus Nwamkpa, told one of our correspondents on the phone that the modalities would be reached before the pupils were recalled.
The acting Chief Press Secretary to Bayelsa State Governor, Mr Daniel Alabrah, in a chat with one of our correspondents, said, “The state government will take a position that will be consistent with whatever position the Federal Government has taken.”
Also the Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, C-Don Adinuba, told The PUNCH that the state would follow the plan of the Federal Government.
The Ekiti State Commissioner for Education, Mr Foluso Daramola, said that the resolutions of the meeting of the South-west states with DAWN would be released by the commission.
The commissioner, reacting to a report that the state government had fixed August 3 for the reopening of its schools for primary six, JSS 3 and SSS 3 pupils, said, “It may be a tentative arrangement.”
FG insists school resumption not safe yet
But the Federal Government on Wednesday insisted that it was not yet safe to reopen schools that were shut as part of efforts to curtail the spread of COVID-19.
The Minister of State, Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, said this while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the eighth virtual Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
WAEC consulting, other West African countries to change WASSCE date — Govt
The minister also hinted that WAEC was consulting other West African countries with a view to deciding whether to change the date of its examination.
He stated, “WAEC, on its own part, is also negotiating with other West African countries to look at possible shift in date and once they are through with that meeting and hopefully when we are also through with the consultations, if there is any change in the ministry’s position, we will communicate.”
But the Secretary-General of the Yoruba Council of Elders, Dr Kunle Olajide , said the decision of the Federal Government to withdraw Nigerian students from WASCCE was in order.
Olajide said this in an interview with one of our correspondents in Ibadan on Wednesday.