It appears there is a clue to the lingering crisis between the Federal and State governments on reopening of schools for the conduct of the West African Senior School Examination (WASSCE), as authorities have agreed to shift the examination date earlier fixed for August 4 to September 5.
The Federal Government had said that it was not ready to reopen the schools forced to close by the coronavirus pandemic for students to write the West African Examination Council (WAEC) WASSCE already fixed to begin August 4, as it was not safe yet to do so, against the decision of some state governments, especially in the South-West to call students in their terminal classes back to school to write their exams.
But, the FG, who had also informed it was negotiating with education stakeholders, and WAEC, informed on Friday, that it had reached an agreement on September 5 as the new date for Nigerian students to write the examination.
Disclosing this in Abuja, on Friday, the Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, said the decision was the outcome of a meeting between representatives of Nigerian government and WAEC in the country, on Monday.
However, Nwajiuba, said, they, WAEC and Nigerian government have also agreed to check further with other four countries on the September 5 new date agreed upon for the conduct of the examination.
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The Minister noted that after taken a painful but necessary decision not to reopen schools without necessary preparations to ensure the safety of students and teachers, he said the Education Ministry would continued with its consultations with stakeholders, while a mechanism to assess and monitor compliance would be put in place.
Consequently, Nwajiuba said school proprietors have between now and July 29, 2020 to meet up with specific guidelines towards the reopening of schools on a date to be later communicated to the public.
Part of the consideration for reopening of schools was the consultation the Minister said the Ministry of Education is embarking upon on possible collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health, Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Education in Emergencies Working Group, so as to develop and circulate new guidelines for the reopening of schools.
Also, the Director of Information in the Federal Ministry of Education, Mr Ben Bem Goong, had, informed on the agreement reached with WAEC on the new date for its exam and preparation of guidelines for the school reopening.
Preparatory to the reopening of schools, Goong further explained that owners of schools and its administrators would have to conduct a self-assessment programme locally and send feedback to State Ministries of Education, on or before July 29, 2020.
He said further in the statement: “Thereafter, consultations with relevant stakeholders will be held to review the situation and decide on a specific date for reopening or otherwise.
“Since Tuesday last week, we have consulted widely with stakeholders in the sector, including Commissioners of Education in all the states of the federation, the Association of Private School Owners of Nigeria,(APSON), National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools,(NAPPS), Provosts of Colleges of Education, Rectors of Polytechnics, Vice-Chancellors of Universities, some State Governors, and development partners.
“On WAEC, we met with WAEC on Monday and have agreed to further consult with four other countries on new examination date.
“We appreciate the concern shown by all stakeholders and note the divergent views expressed on the matter.
“Parents should be rest assured that the safety of our students and teachers is paramount as we work assiduously towards the speedy reopening of our schools for the exit classes to take external examinations.”