Ex-minister of youth and sports development, Bolaji Abdullahi has urged the Nigerian government to find “creative ways to manoeuvre around” the COVID-19 pandemic to enable Nigerian students participate in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) this year.
The federal government had declared that said students of its 104 schools across the nation will not partake in the annual examination due to COVID-19 worries, calling on states and private school owners to follow the decree.
Although some states in southern part of Nigeria have aired their intention to set up measures in and engage with the examination, while other West African countries are also participating.
Abdullahi, who also served as Kwara state commissioner for education between 2003 to 2007, urged the federal government not to rule out the options before it.
“The best we can do is to find ways to keep life going even in the midst of the pandemic and continue to find creative ways to manoeuvre around it. It is what we are doing with the airlines. It is what we are doing with the markets. It is what we are doing with sundry other sectors that we have allowed to resume even as the pandemic rages still,” he explained.
Abdullahi further said the decision not to take part in the WASSCE will affect 1.5 million students this year, and can subsequently get complicated if the pandemic enter the coming year, we will have double the number of affected students.
He said: “The Federal Government is understandably afraid of what could happen, God forbid, if it allows people’s children to gather to write the SSCE examination in the midst of the raging pandemic of COVID-19.
“When it comes to COVID-19, there is no easy answer, and there will always be trade-off. Federal Government is therefore choosing to err on the side of caution by asking children not to write the examinations.
“However, the easier or safer options are not necessarily the best. The relative net consequences of all available options have to be considered and weighed against one another. When we consider that this safe option will mean that about 1.5 million children will be left hanging for one year and by next year, this number will double, along with all the implications, then we must force ourselves to think more deeply and begin to consider even more difficult options. No one knows if this pandemic will end next year, or even in the next five years. God forbid, but what happens if it actually gets worse next year and the year ?”.