Some education stakeholders on Thursday expressed divergent viewpoints on Federal Government’s postponement of the Senior Secondary Certificate Examination in Nigeria due to the raging COVID-19 pandemic.
In separate interviews with Newsmen in Lagos, the stakeholders also spoke on the suspension of partial resumption of certain categories of secondary and technical schools students, including primary school pupils.
NAN reports that the Minister of Education, Alhaji Adamu Adamu, on Wednesday announced that students in the country would not sit for the SSCE, being organised by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC).
Mr Simeon Fowowe, National President, Association of Nursery and Primary Education Instructors in Nigeria (ANPEIN), said that schools should remain shut if the government was not sure of the safety and protection of the students and pupils.
He urged government to ensure the availability of the safety measures before the reopening of schools in the country.
“A healthy and safe child is the one that can write exams. This challenge of not writing WAEC will promote the National Examinations Council (NECO) subsequently, because WAEC is a West African examinations body.
“Government can make a special request from the other member countries of WAEC, so that all the students from the affected nations can write the examinations when it is safe for them,” he said.
Prof. Bilikis Lafiaji-Okuneye, the Provost, Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education (AOCOED), Ijanikin, Lagos, faulted the government’s decision preventing students from writing the examination.
Lafiaji-Okuneye described the school as the best organised setting and starting point to educate students on how to protect themselves from COVID-19. “Government opened the markets and a lot of people are going to market everyday without following government’s directives.
“Recently, I went to Idumota Market on Lagos Island and less than 20 people were wearing masks without anybody controlling the traders on what to do. “Schools should be asked to resume by obeying the government’s protocols but any principal, teacher or proprietor that does not adhere to the government’s instruction should be sanctioned,” she said.
Mr Adedoyin Adesina, Chairman, Nigeria Union of Teachers, Lagos State Wing, said that the government’s suspension of the examination and partial resumption of schools was to prevent students from contracting the virus.
Adesina reminded Nigerians that only the living could write an examination, adding that the virus had been increasing on daily basis worldwide.
“Some of the students might have underlying health ailments which their schools might not be aware of; everybody should know that health is wealth. “It is very painful that students had hoped to graduate and finish their examinations at some point, but the COVID-19 pandemic has affected a lot of things.
“The essence of writing the examination is to move forward and not to be exposed to the virus; I pray everything will be resolved,” he said. Mr Steven Adesemoye, a Mass Communication lecturer at Lagos State Polytechnic, expressed support for the government’ suspension of the examination.
According to him, the schools are yet to do anything or show readiness for the examination. Adesemoye said that Nigerians needed to face the reality because cases of COVID-19 were increasing and people were dying daily.
“In this situation, we need to be sure of people’s health safety and protection first, or let education pause for now, or they run the examination online. “The pandemic is global and the sanctity of lives should be more important to us.
“Education businesses are collapsing in the face of the pandemic, no doubt about it. But the value of the whole businesses cannot be equated with loss of human life,” he said.