Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has faulted the decision of the Federal Government to stop Nigerian students from participating in the 2020 West African Senior School Certificate Examinations (WAEC).
The Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, had announced on Wednesday after this week’s virtual Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting that he would prefer Nigerian students to lose an academic year to expose them to dangers as Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread in Nigeria.
But, Atiku thinks that the decision which was taken unilaterally is faulty and not in Nigeria’s best interests.
In a statement titled, “WAEC Cancellation Puts Nigeria At More Risk.” released on Friday on his official Twitter handle, the former presidential candidate highlighted how the decision would adversely affect the education of the students and set our education indexes further backwards.
“As a parent and investor in the education sector, I wish to register 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 COVID-19 pandemic, it is understandable that an abundance of caution is put in place to save lives. However, caution, without consultation, and thoughtful action, may be counterproductive.
“N1.5 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 countries.
“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 staggered examinations with a different set of questions for each shift.
“Doing so will allow WAEC Nigeria to 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.”