Metro & Crime

WASSCE begins under strict COVID-19 protocols

 

Teachers express confidence in students’ abilities

Lagos House of Assembly to inspect schools

 

The 2020 West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) yesterday commenced across the country under strict COVID-19 protocols. According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), 1,550,000 candidates are participating in this year’s examination spread across 19,129 centres nationwide. The examination, which was supposed to commence on April 6 and end on June 5, was suspended due to the outbreak of coronavirus.

 

The Head of National Office (HNO) of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), Mr. Patrick Areghan, told journalists during an inspection tour of some centres in Lagos that he was impressed with the level of compliance with the COVID-19 protocols. He said: “Firstly, let me offer thanks to God that the muchawaited examination for this year, finally commenced today.

 

“As I speak, this examination is going on simultaneously across all member states in the region. “As you already know, we have visited a couple of schools in the state on this first day of the examination and I will like to say I am highly impressed with what I saw on ground in terms of compliance level by everyone participating in this examination. “We all observe the rules by washing our hands with soap and water, carry out temperature checks, use of hand sanitizers and face masks or shields.

 

“Even the sitting arrangements of the candidates are very well established by ensuring a two-meter gap from each other. “So, if you ask me, I will say I am very impressed with the level of the compliance of the COVID-19 safety protocol and the smooth take-off of the examination.”

 

Areghan warned that the Council would deal decisively with any act of malpractice, irrespective of who was involved. The HNO warned that principals of schools would equally not be spared, if any act of malpractice was recorded in their respective schools during the duration of the ongoing examination.

 

He added: “Right now, with the aid of technology, we have caught a supervisor in Nasarawa State and a candidate in Rivers State trying to snap a question paper and send outside for solution. “These persons have since been handed over to the security agents for necessary actions. “We will stop at nothing to ensure that the integrity of our examinations is not compromised. “I will like to let you know that the Federal Ministry of Education is very interested in the process and conduct of this examination.

 

“In fact, as we speak, the Minister of State for Education is currently in Imo State to monitor the examination too, just like all other top officials of the ministry.” Areghan, however, dismissed the possibility of lowering the standard of the examination as a result of the pandemic. This, he said, would happen. In Oyo State, the exams started in a peaceful manner as coronavirus protocols were strictly observed. Checks around the state showed teachers and students complying with the exam body’s regulations, thereby making it hard for any malpractice.

 

At the Community Grammar School, Airport area of Ibadan, the conduct went peacefully as invigilators prevented any form of malpractice from either the students or their teachers. Government-sponsored invigilators went round schools to ensure there was no breakdown of law and order.

 

At Oke Bola Comprehensive High School, Oke Bola, Ibadan, teachers were stationed in front of every class where the examinations took place, looking at the students to ensure no one engaged in any malpractice. In compliance with Covid-19 directives, hand-washing bowls with water and sanitizers were placed in front of each classroom while every student was mandated to put on their face masks while sitting for the examination.

 

Social distancing was equally maintained in the sitting arrangements. A total of 24,545 exit students started the examination in Kano State, amid strict adherence to the COVID-19 protocols.

 

According to NAN, 11,400 of the 27,454 students are from public schools while the remaining 16,460 registered for the examination in private schools in the state. The examination is being conducted in 538 designated centres in the state.

 

 

A NAN correspondent, who monitored the examination at some of the centres, reported that the schools had put in place measures to facilitate compliance to the COVID-19 guidelines. Some of the schools visited include Rumfa College, Government Senior Secondary School, Sabuwar Kofa, Kano Capital Schools and Governor’s College, Kano. At the entrance of the visited schools, hand-washing fa-cilities such as soap, hand sanitizer, water and infrared thermometer were provided while students and other visitors were subjected to temperature checks. Students and examiners used face masks while social distancing was observed in the examination halls.

 

A school official at Rumfa College, who pleaded anonymity, said adequate arrangements were put in place in the school to ensure total compliance with the COVID-19 guidelines.

 

He said: “We have a total of 214 students sitting for WAEC in the school. The main examination hall accommodates 600 students in a normal examination period. “But in compliance with the social distancing occasioned by the pandemic, we have 186 students in the hall. The remaining 28 were shared into two classes.”

 

Exit secondary school students in Enugu State commenced the examination by observing COVID-19 protocols. The schools visited during the examination complied with the COVID-19 safety protocols as the students wore face masks and sat two metres away from one another.

 

At the Federal Government College (FGC), Independence Layout, Enugu, the Principal, Mr. Ejeh Usman, said that no fewer than 506 students were participating in the examination. d Usman said that the school deployed infrared thermometers to check the temperature of students before entering the examination hall.

 

The principal said that handwashing facilities and sanitizers werepositionedatstrategic locations within the school environment. He said: “During the four months that the students stayed at home, we organised online classes to prepare them for this examination. We also had marathon revision classes in the last two weeks. “So, they will not be much affected.”

 

At Day Secondary School, Independence Layout, the Principal, Mrs. Maria Nnanwike-Nwodo, said that she had high hopes that the students would do well despite the prevailing situation.

 

She said: “Our students approached this examination with high hopes because that is what they had expected. We prepared them well for this.” However, the Principal, Queens School, Enugu, Mrs. Ada Nweke, expressed worry that the first paper to be written was Mathematics. Nweke said that no fewer than 312 students were taking the examination in the school. She said: “Mathematics should have been one of the last papers to be written so that the students would have gotten much confidence before then.”

 

Nweke, however, said that the school did its best to prepare the students within the two weeks revision window. She added that they introduced morning and evening revision sessions per day.

 

Meanwhile, the Lagos State House of Assembly has directed its Committee on Education to embark on facilities tour of both public and private schools to affirm strict compliance with COVID- 19 guidelines. The Assembly’s decision followed a Matter of Urgent Public Importance raised yesterday by the Chairman, House Committee on Education, Hon. Yinka Ogundimu, during plenary.

 

This is as the House, in its resolution, also called on Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to direct the state Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, to conduct tests on the students to affirm their status. Speaking on the need for the House to visit the schools in the states, Ogundimu explained that the state Ministry of Education had informed the Ccommittee about the commencement of the examination and that schools had put in place necessary guidelines.

 

He said: “Looking at the number of schools including the number of teachers and students, it is staggering. We need to monitor the examination that just commenced.”

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