BY GRACE ANYANWU, ABUJA – Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar on Friday declared that the Federal Government’s policy of unilaterally cancelling the West African Senior School Certificate Examination, held annually by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), is not in Nigeria’s best interest.
Atiku in a statement personally signed by him, noted that while at a time of the global COVID19 pandemic, it is understandable that an abundance of caution should be put in place to save lives, he however, cautioned, saying that without consultation, and thoughtful action, the policy may be counter productive.
The former Vice President noted 1.5 million Nigerian youths write the West African Senior School Certificate Examination annually, stressing that to abruptly cancel the examination is to set back the nation’s youth, and place them behind their contemporaries in other West African nations.
In his words; “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,” he said.
Atiku said that as a parent and investor in the education sector, he urged the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to take into account that the lives they are trying to save will be further put at risk.
According to him; “This is 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”.