Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice-President, has said the government’s policy of unilaterally canceling the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WAEC) held annually by the West African Examinations Council, is not in Nigeria’s best interest especially for students.
Atiku in a statement on Friday by his Media Office said at a time of the global COVID-19 pandemic, it was understandable that an abundance of caution is put in place to save lives.
The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, recently said the federal government will not reopen schools in view of the rising cases of COVID-19 pandemic, adding that the government would not mind forfeiting the 2020 West African Senior School Certificate Examination, WASSCE earlier scheduled for August 5 and September 5 in order to save the lives of students.
Atiku, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2019 said 1.5 million Nigerian youths write the West African Senior School Certificate Examination annually, adding that to abruptly cancel the examination is to set back the nation’s youth and place them behind their contemporaries in other West African nations.
“It 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.
“Rather than cancellation, there are better ways to protect the health of Nigerians and prevent the pandemic from escalating. We could mobilize 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 implement social distancing and achieve the goal of carrying out the examinations. A win-win scenario.
“I urge this administration 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,” Atiku said.