An end to the controversy between the Federal Government and States over the reopening of schools appears to be in sight following a reconciliatory meeting which had been scheduled for today (Monday).
The webinar meeting convened by the Ministry of Education has been scheduled for the Commissioners of Education in the 36 States of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory.
A terse invitation letter to selected participants signed by the Director of Press in the Federal Ministry of Education, Ben Bem Goong on Sunday evening, said the consultative meeting would suggest the way forward towards reopening schools which have been shut amid COVID-19 pandemic.
Top on the agenda of the meeting is the new schedule for the West African School Certificate Examination conducted by the West African Examination Council; Senior School Certificate Examination of National Examination Council; Basic Education Certificate Examination, National Common Entrance, among other issues.
He said, “Invitation to a webinar consultative meeting between the Federal Ministry of Education and Honourable Commissioners of Education. The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Arc Sonny Echono, cordially invites Honourable Commissioners of education of the 36 states of the Federation and the FCT to a consultative meeting on the way forward towards reopening our schools.
“In particular, the agenda for a new schedule for WAEC, NECO, BECE, the National Common Entrance Examination among other issues will be on the table.”
Newsmen reported that the Federal Government on Thursday said students in Nigeria may be forced to sit for the General Certificate Examinations in November if the country failed to meet up with this year’s timetable for the WASSCE.
The government explained that the shift may become necessary since the West African Examination Council, unfortunately, cannot shift its WASSCE scheduled to commence on August 4.
The Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, had stated these while answering questions from journalists during the press conference of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
He however said that should Nigeria be able to meet up with WAEC timetable, there was already a negotiated timeline to move local language subjects such as Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa as offered in Nigeria, behind as first written subjects, to allow all participating countries the needed time to write the general subjects at the same time.
Nwajiuba said, “If you look at what the chairman of the PTF presented in June, he said he is not giving a date for schools resumption. He proposed that in view of WAEC’s time table, it will be advisable for those who can, to try and make arrangements to make use of the available facilities and that is what is stated in the guidelines.
“In the guideline, there is a checklist of the requirements to be put in place and we have given a cut-off date, so we can know who needs help. We need to know if the teachers at your own location cannot be provided with mask; if the school is unable to do that we need to know ahead because states that have given date for resumption of schools are setting a time table along the lines we have already explained and they are free to do this.
“Many states have come to say they are unable to meet up with that date that is why the Minister requested that WAEC give us and the schools some time to meet up.
“WAEC unfortunately, is unable to wholesomely move the exams, but we have also worked out a negotiated timeline with WAEC on what we call peculiar Nigerian subjects which in the language of WAEC are subjects that are only held in Nigeria such as Ibo , Hausa, Yoruba. The Ghanaians will take examinations peculiar to them.”