The House of Representative Committee on Basic Education and Services has opposed the directive of the Minister of Education cancelling the reopening of schools to enable graduating pupils and students write their final examination as earlier directed by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
Chairman of the House Committee on Basic Education and Services, Rep. Julius Ihonvbere, who made the committee’s position known, said the House committee received with amazement the announcement by the minister of education that Nigerian students would not be participating in the forthcoming WASSCE examinations.
According to Rep. Ihonvbere, the minister did not inform the country if the decision for Nigerian students not to write the examination was in agreement with other West African countries or in consultation with the examination body, the state governments and other stakeholders in the education sector.
Also, he observed that the minister did not inform the public if the decision was the outcome of a meeting with state governments that are in- charge of primary and secondary education, except for unity schools that belong to the Federal Government.
He wondered why the sudden and unexpected policy reversal by the minister when the minister of state had briefed the nation at the COVID- 19 presidential committee briefing and the House Committee on Basic Education where he assured that all steps were being taken to ensure full compliance with all COVID- 19 safety 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.
“The House Committee disagrees with the minister and believes that reconsideration is urgently needed to save our educational system,” the House committee chairman stated.
Rep. Ihonvbere averred that since Nigeria is not the only country that is expected to write the examination in the midst of COVID -19, the Federal Government should insist that the examination be based exclusively on the already covered syllabus.
“The Federal Ministry of Education 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 Federal 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.
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“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 minister. We are parents just like him. No Nigerian parent would want to delay, distort or 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,” he asserted.