By Christiana Ekpa
The House Representatives Committee on Basic Education and Services has come up with an alternative position over the announcement by the Honourable Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu that Nigerian students would not participate in the forthcoming WASSCE examinations.
Hon. Julius Ihonvbere, Chairman, House Committee on Basic Education and Services who disclosed this in a statement he personally signed and sent to newsmen in Abuja, said the Minister was not mindful of the fact that Nigeria’s students and their parents will suffer for such a decision without proper consideration.
The lawmaker further said that the Minister did not inform the country if his decision was inline or 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 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.
According to him, 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-19 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 hand washing 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, reconceptualising 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” he said.