Former Vice President and Founder of American University of Nigeria, Yola, Adamawa State, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has opposed the stance of the Federal Government that Nigerian students won’t partake in this year’s examinations of the West African Examination Council in order to protect students from contracting Coronavirus Disease.
In a statement he personally signed on Friday, Abubakar said not taking part in the examinations will put Nigeria at more risk.
The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, had on Wednesday after the Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said Nigerian students will not partake in this year’s examination of the WAEC, already scheduled by stakeholders for August to September.
The Federal Government told states that have already fixed dates for the resumption of students for this purpose to have a rethink and cancel it.
But Abubakar in the statement on Thursday said: “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.”