THE presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2017 election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has faulted the Federal Government’s decision to cancel the 2020 West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) because of fears over the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Abubakar criticised the government’s decision, describing it further as not in the country’s interest.
In his Twitter handle on Friday, Abubakar said that the decision to cancel the participation of Nigerian students will put the country at more risk.
He noted further that the cancellation of the examinations also foreclosed the idea of reopening schools on account of safety of students.
In his Twitter, the former Vice President stated: “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, (WAEC) is not in Nigeria’s best interest.
“At a time of the global COVID-19 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.”
Abubakar advised that rather than canceling the examinations for 2020, government could, “mobilise all available public and private infrastructures, including primary schools, stadia, and cinemas, for the examinations,’ which he opined would allow for the implementation of safety protocols for the management and handling of the virus.
“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 and 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.”
Atiku Abubakar appealed to the Federal Government “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.”
It can be recalled that the Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba, had on recently announced that the West African Examination Council (WAEC) will conduct the Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) on August 4.
Soon after, his boss, the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, reversed the decision, exempting schools in the country from participating in the examinations.