On 8th July, It came as a surprise to any intellectual mind, the decision made by honourable minister of education, Adamu Adamu, shortly after federal executive council meeting that this year’s West African Senior Secondary School Examination was suspended indefinitely due the fear of student’s exposure to the danger of corona. Therefore, all final year students of Nigerian secondary schools are instructed to remain at home until further notice.
A day after, the Head of Nigerian WAEC, Patrick Areghan, in support of the decision, said that the exam body respect the directive of the government. Adding that, it is within the legitimate power of the five -member countries to make such decision. He noted that as for now, the body cannot make any solid call until the ” Coast is Clear “.
The above view has been the topic of argument between many intellectuals, including educationists, academics, students and educational stakeholders. Majority of them are seeing the action as an intentional effort made by minister to subjugate the country’s educational system, knowing that most of the ruling-elites’ children are studying overseas, only few among the children are in the country, studying in the most highly expensive schools.
The anti-intellectual decision taken by the government, would indubitably have a broad spectrum of negative effects; giving numerous setbacks to our teaming students, educational system, social stability and development. It, indirectly, depicts how those that were saddled to man the country’s educational sector lack proficiency and technical know-how in delivering their duty.
Reacting on the decision, former People’s Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, on July 10th, warned that the cancellation of WAEC is putting Nigeria at risk because the economy of most countries is founded on education. He, however, stressed that the decision wasn’t in the interest of Nigeria. He made this known in his twitter handle that the action would bring Nigerian students behind their fellow contemporaries.“1.5 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.”
In another development, the committee chairman, House Committee on Basic Education and Services, Mr Ihonvbere, said that West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASCE) should not be cancelled in Nigeria. The lawmaker, on Friday 10th, July 2020 disagreed with the minister, saying that reconsideration was urgently needed to save the educational system in the country. “The Ministry of Science and Technology as well as the Ministries of Environment and Health should immediately work out an agenda to fumigate all classrooms, provide handwashing buckets with soap and water, and facemasks to all students.”
Not to talk of other African countries like Niger Republic, whose economic power could never be compared with ours, has afford to provide conducive environment for reopening its schools. Simply because, the country realises the importance of education. Notwithstanding, the American President, Donald Trump, earlier called on the reopening of American schools , stating that “we have to open our schools. Open our schools! Stop this nonsense! Germany, Norway, so many countries right now, their schools are opened. ……we have to open our schools and stop this political nonsense “.
But here in Nigeria, the reverse is the case. All the country’s sectors such as aviation industry, market places, sea ports, government ministries, agencies, boards and lots more, are gradually opened with exception to educational sector. This may not be unconnected to the fact that the authorities concerned didn’t know the probative value of education. Funds budgeted on the sector, if the decision wasn’t retracted, will be woefully spent or stolen. Proprietors and staff of privately owned schools are set to starve, suffer and force to die because their investments are solely on the sector. Without resumption, they would’ve no any source of income.
In Nigeria, there are almost a number of 1,590,173 million students who registered for WAEC in 2019. These students were unthoughtfully instructed to remain at home due the fear of been exposed to corona. The funny part of this saga is the federal government’s approval of Edo and Ondo gubernatorial elections which are to be conducted very soon. In Edo state alone, a total of 2,210,534 people have registered to vote while in Ondo state 1,822,346. Putting the figures all together, one would have a total of 4,032,880 registered voters. These, on the day of election, would come in crowd to cast their votes freely. And yet, the government shows no sign of rejection due its political interest. But here we are, education; the only thing that the masses benefit, are put on hold. This literily shows how our leaders misplaced priorities intentionally for their self-centeredness and personal aggrandizement.
Ahmad Hamisu Umar is a consummate writer,investigative journalist and social analyst who writes from Kano state.
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