Nigeria not safe yet for WASSCE ― Okebukola

Former executive secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Peter Okebukola, has expressed support for the sudden U-turn by the Federal Government not to allow Nigerian candidates to participate in this year’s school-based West African Senior Secondary School Examination (WASSCE) being conducted by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) which has been fixed for between August 3 and September 5.

He said this was not the ideal date as it was still unsafe for Nigeria to reopen schools either gradually or wholly, let alone allow the students to gather for any exam.

According to him, the coronavirus pandemic at the moment in the country is critical based on the rising statistics and the opinions of health experts, and great caution must, therefore, be taken.

He said it would not do the country any good to expose students to the health hazards associated with the virus.

“And no parent will claim ignorance of this daily rise in both cases in the country and so reopening of schools and allowing students to sit for WASSCE is like gambling with their lives, and those same parents will blame the minister if unpleasant things happen,” he pointed out.

Giving three scenarios through which students are at great risks of contracting the virus, especially in the cities, Okebukola said they could contract the virus on their way to or from school.

“They may also get infected inside schools through unprotected interaction among themselves or with their teachers like the case of Ghana, Kenya and South Africa; also, among those in boarding schools with choked-up hostels especially in our public schools and who have been physically separated for about four months,” he added.

He said it was not that schools could not be reopened at least gradually, but only in a situation where people are strictly adhering to safety measures at all places to flatten the COVID-19 curve rather than moving up it as it is currently.

Okebukola, who is a professor of science and computer education said even at that students would need a minimum of six weeks of revision when back in schools to prepare well for any external exam having been home for about four months, otherwise, there would be mass cheating and failure in the exams.

According to him, many students, especially in the rural communities are not been benefitting in the various e-learning activities that have been taking place since the closure of schools and such students would return to schools poorly prepared for the WASSCE and would then indulge in malpractice to pass.

Okebukola, however, said the Federal Government could approach WAEC to request for a better time when the environment is clement for all concerned to conduct the exam.



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