By Ikeddy ISIGUZO
Debate over our children sitting for the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) now, or whenever COVID-19 permits, is our latest, needless national distraction. Why would a country so endowed always elect to portray itself as uncommitted to solving problems?
The penchant for choosing decapitation as solution to headaches is becoming a national culture. We should cure ourselves of it. We can start with the 2020 WASSCE. Grounds to postpone it to 2021 do not exist at all. The only reason to hold the examination is that COVID-19 would not affect it.
The West African Examination Council (WAEC) has failed to make a stronger case for the examination to hold. Minister of Education Dr. Adamu Adamu in reaching a decision to cancel the examination in 2020 relied on the narrow plank of the dangers of COVID-19. Should he not have done more?
What happens to the children? How would we manage students who would be taking their examinations a year after they were due? Where would the schools accommodate them? Are we creating a special stream for them? Suppose we still have the pandemic by 2021? What plans does Dr. Adamu have for them?
COVID-19 is real. Another reality is that it could be with us for years. We are left with no option but to manage the pandemic. Life must go on in measured manners. The Federal Ministry of Education should enhance safety measures and let the examinations hold.
Protocols that the Federal Ministry of Education established, if improved, would see our children take these examinations with minimal exposure to any extra dangers. The examinations are important to their future, and so is their safety. We can manage both without any conflicts. Suppose we explore these possibilities that are staring at us?
Social distancing is possible and practicable. With the rest of the school closed except the graduating class every school would have enough empty classrooms to keep students two metres apart as they write the examinations. Students can be spread to the vacant classes in their schools to maintain social distancing.
Extra invigilators would be required which WAEC may not be able to muster. The solution is for teachers in the schools, who are idle, due to the lockdown, to fill that role.
Rules on masks, sanitisers, and washing of hands (with running water) should be strictly enforced. With these we should be able to hold the examinations without endangering lives of students and their invigilators.
Education is important for life to continue. We cannot descend to fears as first factor in our decisions. We will make more mistakes if we do and the damage to the future would be irreparable. President Muhammed Buhari should tell the Minister of Education to allow our children write the 2020 WASSCE. They would be safe.
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