Gabriel Dike, Fred Ezeh and Bianca Iboma-Emefu
Six days to the conduct of the May/June West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), schools are engaged in final preparations to ensure the success of their SS3 students.
Last week, stakeholders expressed concerns about the preparedness of the students due to the four-month closure of schools by the Federal Government caused by the ravaging coronavirus pandemic. During a zoom session before resumption, they painted a picture of looming mass failure and the fact that some students were not involved in online classes organised by their schools. But schools and parents are confident that the students would come out in flying colours.
Conduct of WASSCE
The West African Examinations Council (WAEC) last month announced that 1,549,563 candidates nationwide and in three African countries will write the school exam in 19, 129 schools. A breakdown showed that 786,421 are males and 763,042 are females.
WAEC Head of National Office (HNO), Mr Patrick Areghan, warned that the exam would be conducted in strict compliance with the COVID-19 protocols, adding that candidates without facemask would not be allowed into the exam hall. The examination was earlier scheduled to hold between April 6 and June 5, 2020. The candidates are expected to write 76 subjects consisting of over 200 exam papers.
expect good results
Schools and parents are, however, confident that the candidates have prepared well and are ready to do them proud in the examinations. Principal of Cornerstone College, Agodo-Egbe, Lagos, Mrs Mary Agaga, said:
“During the closure of schools, we engaged them (students) in online teaching based on WAEC syllabus. This two-week revision, we will use the opportunity to brush them up and last minute tutorial for the examination. We are confident that the result will be good like previous years.”
Proprietor of Royal Academy International, Igando, Lagos, Mr Segun Owolabi, faulted the prediction. He insisted that the SS3 students would perform excellently well in WASSCE: “They have been receiving lessons for about a year and online tutorials during the closure of schools.
“Before the closure of schools, we were ready for WASSCE. The four-month break was an advantage for the candidates. Many of the schools engaged the SS3 students in serious online sessions. They will use this two weeks as revision of what they have been taught within the last one year.”
A caregiver, Mrs Cordelia Idoghor, said the reopening of schools is good tidings, but uncertain about students’ performances: “The students may record very poor results. They have been home for months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
‘’In terms of preparation, the students did not use the opportunity to read ahead of the May/June 2020 WASSCE. They were relaxed and those who attended online classes were very few because not all parents could provide their wards with data to receive lectures.
“Having been at home for four months without taking advantage of the opportunity to study, this might affect their overall performances, especially those in the rural communities who did not have the privilege to learn from radio or television as well as have access to Internet thus could not attend online classes.”
Proprietor of Betharbel Montessori School, Yenogoa, Bayelsa State, Mrs Monisola Aiyekuseyin, said: ‘’Most of the SS3 students have not been reading at home since the closure of schools. Friends and other activities at home would not allow them to read or concentrate on their studies.
“Besides, they do not have anyone to serve as a teacher that can instil discipline and guide them. Now that the schools have resumed and the time frame for revision is short, how would they catch up with what they have missed?
“Ordinarily, one month is short to prepare the SS3 students for the WASSCE. It would have been better compared to two weeks preparation. I just hope there won’t be mass failure because there is no adequate preparation.”
Rosemary Akins, a teacher with a Federal Capital Territory Authority (FCTA)-owned secondary school said: “From the day schools in FCT were shut in March, we have not met with the students or engaged them in academic activities. Some of them were still academically sound few weeks into the lockdown. But things changed as the lockdown were being extended.
“Our case in public schools is even worst because majority of our students are from poor or average families. I see most of them on the road or markets engaged in one commercial activities or the other to help their families. Some were even forced to engage in apprenticeship. Only children of the elites who are, perhaps, in private schools engage in online lessons.
“I see mass failure in this examination except the examination body adjusts the marking scheme in favour of the students. Schools reopened on August 4 and WASSCE starts on August 17. That is a short time for revision and getting the students ready for the examination.”
A parent, Aniete Effiong, also expressed fear on the readiness of his 15-year-old daughter to write the examination: “Though, my daughter has been engaged in online classes organised by the school (private school), I have some doubts and reservations about the effectiveness of online classes.
“Howbeit, I hope that their teachers, some of whom have also been affected, financially, psychologically and otherwise, by the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in significant drop of interest/passion, would assist in preparing the students for the examination within the two weeks period grace before the examination.”
Another parent, Samson Ocheje, expressed fears his son may miss the examination because of sudden ailment that came down on him few days ago: “My son went into depression few weeks ago shortly after the Federal Government announced the reversal of the decision to reopen schools in Nigeria. He refused to eat, and kept to himself for a long time. I had to beg and appeal to him with a promise that schools would be reopened soon.”