The fate of Nigerian students everywhere seems up in the air, as the government’s plans for the education sector, since the beginning of the pandemic, have been disconcertingly unclear. The most recent decision of the Federal Government to cancel Nigeria’s participation in the West African Examination Council (WAEC) WASSCE exams was met with considerable opposition; families whose lives have been ground to a halt by the pandemic are already exhausted with the constant dilly-dallying by the government.
Barely four days ago, the Federal Government held a different stance when it announced that the West African Senior School Certificate Examinations (WASCE) would hold from August 4 till September 5, 2020; promising Nigerians detailed guidelines and schedules in due time.
While it was a jolt to reality for Nigerian students, the decision suggested the government was considering a proactive approach in slowly easing Nigerians back into normalcy. People lauded the government’s decision as showing considerable foresight. Many discussed the issue of the Coronavirus, stating that social distancing could easily be practised and maintained at exam centres.
In a substantial back step, quick enough to give many whiplash, the Federal Government on Friday reversed its earlier announcement and informed citizens of the cancellation of Nigeria’s participation in the WAEC examinations, as scheduled this year. The statement said that schools under the control of the Ministry of Education would remain closed until it was safe to reopen and that those to participate in the common entrance exams were also affected by the cancellation.
The Former Vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar, as well as other Nigerians, have come out to condemn this decision; declaring that it was a huge step back for Nigeria. Atiku enunciated that the sudden cancellation would not only set Nigerian students back against their peers in Western nations but also affect Foreign Direct Investments and other economic indicators; emphasizing that these things were tied to the educational index of the country.
The former aide to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Reno Omokri also piped in saying that it was shady for the government to hold elections but refuse to organize a successful WAEC examination, inferring that the government’s priorities were not in order.
Some Nigerians also suggested the government looks to other alternatives to ensure these examinations take place just as the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) had done, such as computer-based examinations.
Other individuals also jeered at the government for its decision, saying that it was no surprise they would cancel WAEC exams because President Muhammadu Buhari had “no WAEC certificate of his own”.
There’s still lingering hope that the government would reconsider their present position and find other viable options so Nigerian students can take progressive steps in their education, albeit small steps.