The long-awaited 2020 West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) commenced across the country, yesterday, amid hiccup, including late arrival of materials, rumour of paper leakage and arrests in some centres.
Tales that the Mathematics question papers had leaked inaundated social media on Sunday night.
However, the West Africa Examination Council (WAEC), in a swift reaction on its Twitter handle dismissed it : “This is fake. Scammers do this every year. Only gullible candidates fall prey.”
No fewer than 1,550,000 candidates are participating in the examination spread across 19,129 centres nationwide. The exams would end on September 12.
The examination was initially billed for April 6 – June 5, but was suspended due to the outbreak COVID-19 pandemic. Head of National Office (HNO) of WAEC, Patrick Areghan, told newsmen during an inspection tour of some centres in Lagos that he was impressed with the level of compliance with COVID-19 protocols.
Areghan warned that the council would deal decisively with any act of malpractice, irrespective of who was involved. He warned principals that they would equally not be spared, if any act of malpractice was recorded in their respective schools during the duration the examination.
“Right now, with the aid of technology, we have caught a supervisor in Nasarawa and a candidate in Rivers trying to snap a question paper and send outside for solution. These persons have since been handed over to security agents for necessary actions. We will stop at nothing to ensure that the integrity of our examinations is not compromised,” he said.
He dismissed the possibility of lowering the standard of the examination as a result of the pandemic, adding that it would not be obtainable.
Areghan said the council was faced with the challenge of increased cost of conducting the examination, as it had engaged more supervisors and invigilators.
In Oyo State, the exercise began on a faulty note as examination materials and external supervisors arrived late in some schools.
Investigation in the state capital, Ibadan, showed that the examinations did not begin on schedule, due to the late arrival of invigilators and examination materials.
Some schools started the examinations almost an hour behind the 9.30 a.m. scheduled for its commencement because of the late arrival of invigilators and sensitive materials.
Mrs Bolarinwa Oluyinka, Vice-Principal (Academic), Ansar-Ud-Deen High School, Ibadan, said: “I cannot say the reason why the WAEC supervisor is late; immediately the person is here, we are already set and will commence the examination.”
However, the COVID-19 safety protocols, including social distancing, were adhered to by the authorities of the schools visited.
Mrs Grace Oluwasogo, chief invigilator, Isabatudeen High School, Ibadan confirmed that the sitting arrangements were made in line with the WAEC procedures.
Mr. Fasasi Abdullahi, principal, Islamic High School and Chairman, Oyo State Committee on Safety Protocols for Schools on WASSCE, noted that the committee had sensitised all secondary schools in the state to that effect.
Mrs Folasade Ayodele, principal, Oba Akinbiyi Model School, Ibadan, noted that the main hall was being earmarked for the Basic Education Certificate Examinations (BECE) for the JSS III students, hence the use of classrooms, corridors and laboratories for the examinations.
24,454 students write exams in Kano
A total of 24, 545 exit students made up of 11, 400 in 27, 454 in public schools and 16, 460 in private schools in the state spread across 538 designated centres are taking the exams in Kano State.
At GGSS, Sabuwar Kofa, an official of the school, said about 30 students would write the examination in the centre.
Mr. Jerry Adaji, principal, First Grade Comprehensive School, said 30 candidates would sit for the examination in the school.
“On a normal setting, we have 55 students in a class, but with COVID -19, the students are divided into 14 per classroom,” he said.
Enugu, Anambra, Ondo, Plateau adhere to protocols
Anambra State Post Primary Schools Service Commission (PPSSC) expressed satisfaction with the level of safety compliance.
Mrs. Ifeoma Okaro, chairperson, PPSSC, said in Awka that most of the schools were adhering to guidelines put in place to safeguard lives of candidates and officials involved in the examination.
Prof. Kate Omenugha, Commissioner for Basic Education, said the state government had set up a COVID-19 compliance monitoring team that had been going round on daily basis since schools resumed on August 4.
Similarly, Secondary Schools in Jos, Plateau, and Ondo state also adhered strictly with safety protocols.
Prof. Adesegun Fatusi, Chairman, Ondo State Inter-ministerial Committee on COVID-19 said all the schools visited complied with the guidelines.
In Jos, Joseph Gimba, principal of Government Secondary School West of Mines, said his students were in high spirits as they sat for the examination.
He said 68 students registered and were sitting for the examination in the school.
At St. Louis’ College, Jos, all the guidelines put in place were observed by the students.
Mrs Peace Egborode, Vice Principal (Academic) of the college, said all the necessary arrangements had been made to ensure strict adherence to safety directives.
At the Federal Government College (FGC), Independence Layout, Enugu, the principal, Mr Ejeh Usman, said no fewer than 506 students were participating in the examination.
Usman said the school deployed infrared thermometers to check temperature of students before entering the examination hall.
He said hand-wash facilities and sanitisers were positioned at strategic locations within the school environment .