Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar said on Friday the Federal Government’s decision to cancel the West African Examination Council (WAEC) examination in Nigeria this year was not in the nation’s best interest.
He said in a statement that the federal government should have consulted Nigerians, particularly stakeholders in the education sector before taking the decision.
The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, had said on Wednesday that all federal schools across the country would remain closed until it was safe to reopen them.
He also said the West African Examination Council (WAEC) could not determine the resumption date for schools for Nigeria.
According to Adamu, the examination body announced the date of examination while the government was still consulting stakeholders on the matter.
Atiku said: “At a time of the global COVID-19 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 indices 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 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 exams rather than miss a year.”
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