Head of the Nigeria National Office (NNO) West African Examination Council (WAEC), Patrick Areghan, has said that the body is ready to conduct the rescheduled 2020 West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) billed to take off Monday, August 17, 2020.
The examination, which was earlier fixed to take place between April 6 and June 5, had to be postponed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which necessitated the hurried shutdown of all social, academic and economic activities in order to curtail further spread of the virus.
Also, last month, at a fully attended media briefing, Areghan announced another date of August 3 and September 5, before the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, announced that the resumption date had been cancelled. He told a bewildered nation that if he had his way, Nigeria would not present candidates for the examination.
After much consultation with relevant stake holders, WAEC announced a new date and students in the exit classes resumed on Tuesday, August 4, after almost four months of compulsory holiday.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) gave conditions under which schools must be allowed to take in students for examinations.
They include: water points for washing of hands with soap, hand sanitizers, wearing of face masks, as well as maintaining social distancing between everyone connected with the conduct of the examinations. All the conditions, head of the Nigeria National Office said they are prepared for. Hear him: “By the grace of God, we are prepared; our materials are ready for distribution and administration.
The examination is starting on the 17th of August. And by the grace of God, that day, we will administer subject papers that will be taken on that day.
“We have appointed our supervisors, and we bring them and tell them the nitty- gritty of the work, the dos and don’ts. We will ensure that all our staff wear facemasks and provide them with hand sanitizers. All supervisors will also be given facemasks.
There will be buckets with washing-hand basins and running water, sanitizers and facemasks for the staff that will be there. “Once we do all these, we are good to go.
At various exam centres, we will ensure two-metre spacing is maintained. That is why we are having at least two supervisors per centre.” But this is coming at a huge cost to the examination body and the student too would be stretched as examinations would hold on Saturdays as well.
This much Areghan attested to when he addressed the media in July. “There is a novel development in this arrangement in the sense that the examination would be held from Monday through Saturday, in order to be able to achieve the five-week span. A total of 1,549, 463 candidates have registered from 19,129 schools out of which 786,421 are males and 763,042 are females.”
He continued: “This means that many more classrooms will be used and many more supervisors and invigilators will be required to conduct the examination. This has certainly raised the supervision fee to be paid to supervisors as well as the provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to staff, Supervisors and other examination officials. “No doubt, all these measures have financial implications which were not contemplated at the time of drawing up the budget for the conduct of the examination.
The big question looming now is how can this extra fund be raised?” While Areghan appealed to government, corporate organisations and good spirited individuals to come to their aid, state governments have responded by providing them with face masks and decontaminating the WAEC Zonal and branch offices in the 36 states of the federation.
Sunday Telegraph investigations revealed that WAEC will supply the supervisors while the schools will provide the invigilators. A highly placed source, who spoke to the newspaper on condition of anonymity because he is not permitted to talk to the press, said WAEC pays an invigilator per session and invigilates 30 students.
“With the social distancing occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be more invigilators as well as supervisors.” Already, the state governments have been coming to the aid of the examination body by disinfecting the offices before resumption and issued certificates for same. PPEs too were given to the schools.
For instance in Kwara State, the state government aside fumigating the branch office, gave out 65,000 face masks to be distributed to schools across the state. “As a first step and believing that charity must begin at home, our entire office here in Ilorin had been thoroughly fumigated before we resumed.
The fumigation was carried out by the state government, which later issued us certificate to that effect,” Branch controller, Waheed Amode, said in an interview with Sunday Telegraph.
On hazard allowance to be paid to the field officers, Sunday Telegraph was unable to get the exact amount each supervisor would be entitled to, as the controllers referred the Newspaper to the National Office, a controller said: “I know the officials are well taken care of.”