Former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has opposed Federal Government’s decision that Nigerian students won’t partake in this year’s examinations of the West African Examination Council (WAEC) in order to protect the students from contracting COVID-19.
In a statement he personally signed on Friday and made available to Campus Gist, Atiku, Founder of American University of Nigeria (AUN), Yola, in Adamawa state, said not taking part in the examinations will put Nigeria at more risk.
Campus Gist recalls that the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, had on Wednesday declared that Nigerian students won’t participate in this year’s WAEC examination already scheduled by the exam body for August to September.
The Federal Government specifically told Nigerian states that have already fixed dates for the resumption of students for the purpose of the WAEC exams to have a rethink and cancel it.
But Atiku in the statement on Thursday said cancelling the senior secondary school examination abruptly was not in the nation’s best interest, as it will further create chaos in the public education system and cause setback for the youths.
The Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate in the 2019 presidential election, therefore, urged the Buhari-led administration to take into account that the lives they are trying to save will be further put at risk by its actions.
The statement reads, “As a parent and investor in the education sector, I wish to register the fact that the Nigerian government’s policy of unilaterally cancelling the West African Senior School Certificate Examination, held annually by the West African Examinations Council, is not in Nigeria’s best interest.
“At a time of the global COVID19 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 counter productive.
“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 nations. 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.
“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 a 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.”