Senior Secondary (SS3) students, who ought to have written the May/June 2020 West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) three months ago, said they are ready to write the exams any moment from now. This is even as the Federal Government and stakeholders concluded plans to reopen schools in September.
They told The Education Report that they could not wait to resume school and write the 2020 WASSCE with the intention to gain admission into tertiary institutions.
Government three weeks ago insisted on the cancellation of the exams and that schools would not reopen because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision did not go down well with private school owners and stakeholders.
Less than 48 hours after the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, announced government decision, Oyo State said its candidates would sit for the exam. But a week after, the northern governors declared support for government’s decision. Investigations revealed that other state governors would have followed the footsteps of Oyo State but for political reasons.
In line with the announcement, the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), unfolded a new timetable for the May/June 2020 WASSCE, to be taken by 1,549,563 candidates in over 19,000 schools nationwide and in three other countries.
Before WAEC agreed to shift the exams from August to September, some private school owners were weighing in the option of getting their SS3 students to write the 2020 WASSCE in Ghana.
Candidates’ reactions to Sept date
Francis Eze, an SS3 student of Royal Academy International, Igando, Lagos, said he and his colleagues are prepared for the WASSCE and hoped the Federal Government will keep to the September date as students are tired of staying at home:
‘’Many of us did well in the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) and are looking forward to school resumption. My school has prepared us well and we are ready to sit for WAEC and come out in flying colours. I cannot afford to loss the 272 mark I scored in UTME. We are ready to go once government announces reopening of schools.’’
Chukwuebuka Oluigbo, Command Day Secondary School, Enugu, said: “I am neither for nor against postponement of the examination. I would love to go back to school and see my classmates, take my exam and gain admission into the university. But due to the Coronavirus pandemic you don’t know who has the disease, so I am of the opinion that until we are sure that we are safe before we go for the exam.’’
Favour Ohabuiro, Command Day Secondary School, Enugu: “I have been studying. I am a science student and that is why I am having problems with this lockdown. I do not find the other subjects difficult but the science subjects because I need the lab to do a lot of things, practical and such stuff. So it is difficult studying outside the school.”
Wilson Okereke, Good Shepherd Anglican Seminary, Enugu: “I am preparing well through our online classes via the television, the Wazobia, they teach us various subjects and now we are doing online exams on our school platform.
“It is better the examination takes place but I would like all the classes including the tertiary institutions be opened together so that there will be smooth graduation from one class level to another.”
In Ogun State, the Special Adviser to the governor on Primary and Secondary Education, Mrs Ronke Soyombo, said the governor has not come out with a position on the school exam. She, however, said that the state would abide by the Federal Government’s position on the matter.
She said series of meetings were held by the officials of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology: “As soon as the governor takes a decision on the matter, such will be made public.” She, however, advised parents whose wards registered for the final senior secondary examination, to exercise patience: “The state’s position will be known on the issue soon.”
Principal of Girls Secondary School, Awka, Anambra State, Lady Wini Ibezim, told our correspondent: “We are ready and we so much wish that the exam will start anytime soon. If they do not take the exam, it is going to be challenging because they are the last set using the present WAEC curriculum. So, if they do not take the exam, it will be very challenging to join the next set with a new curriculum.”
One of her students in SS3, Chimdimma Obianyo, told The Education Report: “The online class I participate in is being organised by a private body. My school organises its own too. For the private body, I paid N1,000 and that is the only payment till we take the exam. The WAEC registration cost me N17,000.”
David Onwubiko, Igwebuike Grammar School, Awka, said: “Some students are already losing hope of writing the exam. One of my close friends told me that if it would be possible to collect his WAEC registration fee back, he would do that.
“I have been attending private lesson and I am reading on my own. I solve past questions to get myself prepared for the exam.”
Education commissioners speak
Ebonyi State Government says it is not in a hurry to reopen schools until the Coronavirus pandemic is effectively checkmated. Its Commissioner for Education, Dr Onyebuchi Chima, told our correspondent in Abakaliki:
‘’Our mantra in Ebonyi is safe reopening of our schools. So we cannot compromise the safety of our children because of WASSCE. It is better to lose the 2020 WASSCE than put our students in a harm.”
Enugu State Commissioner for Education, Prof Uche Eze, said: “We are focusing now on our schools to ensure that we get things before we can make a commitment. We cannot make a commitment now until we are sure we have things in place that will protect the students, not only the students, but the teachers and other education personnel.
“Their safety is so critical to us. Yes, the examination will take place in schools that is the point, there are certain basic things that must be there for safety.”
Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, Chief Patrick Ukah, Delta State, said: “I hope you understand that Delta State has not told you that our students will not write the examination. We can never tell our students not to write WASSCE.”
On how prepared are the candidates for the exams, Ukah expressed confidence that the students would do well: “They were prepared through the tele-class, which the state government has been organising since April when the COVID-19 induced lockdown started.”
Anambra State Commissioner for Basic Education, Prof. Kate Omenugha, spoke on the level of preparedness of the state and its students to write the examination as well as its cost: “We are very prepared for the WASSCE. We have been teaching our students on air and also through WhatsApp platform. We are doing the much we can and also encouraging them to work harder on their own.”
Benue State Commissioner of Education, Prof. Dennis Ityavyar said: “Students in the state will not take the 2020 WASSCE because schools have not yet resumed in the state. No date has been fixed for resumption of schools. So, the question about participating in the WASSCE does not arise for now.”
Rivers State Commissioner for Education, Prof Kaniye Ebeku, said: “Students of Rivers State in SS3 class have been studying online/digital platforms, sponsored by government through the Ministry of Education, since schools were abruptly shut on March 29, 2020, to ensure that they are prepared to write their WASSCE any time WAEC announces and publishes a revised time table. So, we can authoritatively say that our candidates are good to go.”
Bauchi State Commissioner for Education, Dr Aliyu Tilde: “The position of Bauchi State is that of the northern states. Their commissioners for education met last weekend and we all resolved that we would toll the line of the Federal Government. So, we will continue to consult with the Federal government and be rest assured that anytime that the Federal Government is ready. We have seen their guidelines they issued and we are working with them. When it is time to reopen we will open jointly.”
In Oyo State, 74,803 candidates from both public and private schools registered for the May/June 2020 WASSCE. Permanent Secretary, Education, Ministry of Education, Mrs Aminat Atere, stood in for Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Mr Olasunkanmi Olaleye:
“We are fully prepared. Before we went on lockdown, we have had series of extramural classes for the SS3 students. We even gave them compendium of past questions we worked on to prepare them for the WAEC. So, the state has really prepared our candidates for the external exams. During the lockdown, we had teaching sessions on radio and television. For both private and public schools, we are presenting about 74,803 candidates.
This year’s WAEC is with no cost for Oyo State. Presently, the parents and guardians paid for the WASSCE registration of their children and wards. We had earlier cancelled payment of fees in the public schools.
“We are looking forward to a resounding success in the examination because all the students have been prepared well. The teachers also have done their best. Though it is just two weeks that we just resumed, what we discovered when we go out for monitoring is that most of the teachers are doing very well, such as remedial classes, revision, for their students, using the compendium.