Delayed school reopening worries parents, private school owners

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The National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS) and the National Parents-Teachers Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN) have appealed to the federal government to reconsider its position delayed school reopening and its withdrawal from the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).

The government had last week said no Nigerian federal school would participate in the exam being conducted by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) earlier rescheduled to hold between 4th August and 5th September.

Last Wednesday, Education Minister, Adamu Adamu, said the it was unsafe to reopen schools for the May/June diet of WASSCE to hold in the country.

But the stakeholders described the latest position of the government as inconsistent and confusing.

On his part, NAPPS president, Yomi Otubela, said private schools across the country are set to participate in the examination, noting that the required protocols as recommended by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in the management of the coronavirus disease would be observed.

He said a formal appeal will be made to the minister on Tuesday, saying rather than blanket non-participation of Nigerian candidates in the examination, the government should set appropriate rules to guide the conduct of the examination and ensure strict compliance.

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In his words, “Our position is that all private schools are ready to write the WASSCE exams. We have already put in place all the necessary precautions and safety as advised by the NCDC. We are appealing to the education minister to reconsider his earlier position and allow the position of the stakeholders which is to allow the children to sit for the examinations to prevail.”

In a similar development, the national president of NAPTAN, Haruna Danjuma, said as critical stakeholders in the education sector, parents are uncomfortable with “conflicting positions constantly released by government officials over the state of schools amidst the coronavirus crisis.”

According to Mr Danjuma, the government’s inconsistency could be observed from the earlier position of the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19, which earlier issued a directive on the possible resumption of schools.

He said; “Isn’t it the same government that made the earlier pronouncement that graduating classes should be permitted to sit their examinations? You see, everything is confusing. As parents, we are critical stakeholders in this whole issue but we are unaware of all these back and forth positions.

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“We must note that apart from general papers such as Mathematics, English and Biology, we cannot have more than 200 candidates in most of the examination halls. Papers like Geography, Government, Literature-in-English, History, may not have more than 40 candidates in many centres. We are not saying schools should be opened for full classes, for God’s sake.

“But surprisingly, the same government has opened up markets, religious worship centres, airports, and also the interstate transits. So what are we talking about? If our children don’t sit for the SSCE, what will they hold to pursue admission into higher institutions? Surprisingly, most of these candidates had earlier sat for the unified tertiary matriculation examination. And JAMB has said results would be forwarded to the higher institutions by August.”

By Nigerian laws, each state can determine its own education policy. Even as the federal government urged states to also withdraw from the WASSCE due to safety concerns, states such as Oyo and Akwa Ibom have already hinted on proceeding to participate in the regional exams. However, the 19 states in Northern Nigeria had opted out in deference to the ministerial position.

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