The Federal Government recently announced that students in exam classes across secondary schools in the country would resume on August 4, 2020 to prepare for their final examinations, which begins August 17.
The schools were asked to make adequate preparations in adherence to the stipulated COVID-19 protocols to safeguard staff and students.
These include fumigation of schools, provision of clinic, mandatory temperature check, wearing of face mask by staff and students and the observance of social distancing, in addition to handwashing and use of hand sanitizers.
Although many expressed excitement at the news of schools reopening, saying it was long overdue, others expressed fear that the two weeks given was too short for students who have stayed over five months at home without any formal classroom teaching to prepare for exams.
Daily Trust Saturday checks showed that most state governments gave approval for resumption on August 10, leaving the students and teachers with just one week to prepare for the exams.
However, students, teachers, parents and school managements who spoke to Daily Trust Saturday on their level of preparedness argued that the timeframe was short and expressed fear of mass failure.
A student of the Government Secondary School Karu, Felix, said he was not ready for the exams considering that he has not had enough time to read.
“When the lockdown started, I was reading and later when shops were opened, I had to go to my aunt’s shop daily. I am always tired and unable to read by the time we get back home,” he said.
Felix also noted that he couldn’t partake in any online class as he doesn’t own an Android phone.
Chairman/Chief Learning Officer of the Voyage International School Abuja, Yussuff Oriyomi, who also lamented the two weeks period for preparation, said, it was unfair as many students were engrossed in mundane things and hardly had time to read. He, however, noted that all safety protocols were in place for the exit classes.
Meanwhile, most of the government-owned secondary schools did not adhere to the safety protocols. At the Junior Secondary School Phase 3 Kubwa, a source said the school only started enforcing the wearing face masks on Wednesday and on Thursday a bucket of water and soap was provided at the gate, temperature reading only started on Friday. Teachers there, however, refused to speak on the issue because they were not authorized to do so.
As at Thursday morning, a parent in Wuse Abuja also told Daily Trust Saturday that at a government-owned secondary school which shares a fence with her compound, there were no safety measures in place.
In Anambra, there is low compliance
When Daily Trust Saturday visited some schools in the Anambra State, it was observed that most of the schools did not have infrared thermometer and nobody was testing for temperature at the gate.
However, most of the schools had provision for washing of hands, although it was not fully observed.
A student, Chinelo Obiora, while speaking to our correspondent, said most of them weren’t expecting good grades considering the long stay at home without lessons. She noted that for those of them in boarding school, the adherence to social distancing wouldn’t be a problem since they were few in number.
No PPE in some Osun schools, disability school to miss WAEC
Our correspondent in Osun, who monitored the resumption of schools, visited some schools in Osogbo and gathered that WAEC exams would not take place in the school for the disabled.
It was gathered that 40 students were qualified for the exam but only 20 paid and the minimum number of candidates that WAEC can register for a school is 25.
A teacher said: “Many of our brilliant students could not register for WAEC because their parents didn’t get the money due to the coronavirus pandemic. Some brought their money late.”
In some of the boarding schools, the hostels have been fumigated but students were not sighted there.
A government official, who said they were not authorized to speak to the press, said they may not use boarding facilities as students will be coming for the exam from home daily.
In the schools visited, PPEs were not provided by schools, but the students and teachers used face masks.
Fear of mass failure in Katsina, Kano
Though students are yet to resume, their resumption is, however, viewed with mixed feelings by parents, teachers and students as well.
A teacher who pleaded anonymity noted that just a week to prepare final year students is greatly inadequate, saying that the teachers can only do their best within the limited time.
He said although the circular for reopening was out but the PPEs were not available yet.
A parent, Bashir Muhammed, said rushing to open schools just for WAEC exam is not good, adding that “since NECO is another option for admission, we can use it to plan appropriately because rushing the students is massive failure waiting to happen.”
Our reporter gathered that an emergency meeting by education ministry officials was ongoing at the time of filling this report on strategies regarding provision of PPEs and other guidelines by the government.
Fumigation of schools was ongoing when our correspondent visited some schools on Friday and provisions had been made for emergency isolation facilities in the schools.
The Examination Officer at GGSS Shekara, Malam Bala Ali, said because of the timeframe, they would only identify key areas that would most likely come out in the exams for revision.
A parent and academician, Dr Rukayya Yusuf Aliyu, was however pessimistic about the fate of the students in the examination due to the short time frame for adequate preparation.
She said the students had been home for too long and were supposed to be given adequate time to prepare for the exams, adding that the short time given by government for resumption is an invitation for exam malpractices.
Aisha Abubakar, an SS3 student, though happy at the news of resumption for exit classes, fears that there could be mass failure in the exams.
“My greatest fear now is having spent months at home due to COVID-19, many students, including me, must have forgotten what we were taught in school. I just don’t know how we will cope,” said Aisha.
For Sadiq Hassan, the story is not different as he has already written his JAMB UTME exam and acquired the minimum cut off marks, but waiting to write WAEC.
He said, “To be sincere, I have not been studying all this while. I just pray not to be disappointed by this SSCE because that will translate to additional one year at home.”
Niger, Rivers students want exam date shifted
Schools in Niger State, according to the State Ministry of education, will resume on Monday.
A principal with the Special Trophy International School Maikunkele, Mr John Samuel, said the school is prepared and ready for resumption but sceptical about the examination.
He said their students are very much prepared for resumption but complained that they may not be able to cope with the examination because of the short time to prepare for it.
Samuel, who noted that all safety protocol requirements were in place, said some of the students have been asking that WAEC should shift the examination for a few more weeks to enable them prepare well.
A student, Issah Isaac, who spoke with Daily Trust Saturday, lamented the short time left to prepare for the examination that is just few days away, saying, they needed at least a month to prepare for the examination.
In Rivers State, some students and parents who were happy that schools have resumed, urged government to extend the exam period to enable them prepare well for the exams.
A parent in Oyigbo, Mrs Josephine Chukwu, said the time frame for the exam period is too short for students to prepare for the exam and called for more time.
However, Praise Tochi Oforji, SSS 3 student of Glory Field Academy Oyigbo, said she had been studying since the lockdown, and is eager to write the exam.
She said though the time frame given by government may not be enough to cover the syllabus but pointed out that most students like her are willing and very anxious to write their final exams.
Principals of public schools in Taraba said they are ready for the WAEC examination, however, a visit to some schools in Jalingo showed that many of them had nothing in place. Many public schools have no thermometer, water, soap and hand sanitiser.
Principals of some of these public schools who spoke with our reporter on condition of anonymity, said they were expecting face masks, hand sanitizers among other items from the state ministry of education.
No directive to open schools in Imo
In Imo, only a few schools, especially faith-based institutions, opened their doors to graduating students as ordered by the Federal Government.
The state government had announced that no school should reopen until it says so.
The principal of the junior section of Owerri Girls Secondary School, Sister Claire Marie, told our correspondent that the school has to abide by the state government’s directive on resumption of schools.
A SSS3 student, Miss Anne Benedict, said she was happy to be back to school and complete her secondary education as she was bored at home.
According to her, aside paying boarding fee of N30, 000, they had earlier paid their second and third term school fees.
In most of the schools visited, clear guidelines on the COVID-19 protocols were in place at the gates while some were fumigating the schools in anticipation of the resumption of academic activities.
Kwara students worry over time
A teacher at the Government Girls College Ilorin, Abidoye Joseph, said: “We have put in place all necessary safety protocols to protect students and teachers from the pandemic. For the exams, I can tell you that we are fully prepared and ready.”
One of the candidates at the C&S College Sabo-Oke in Ilorin, Toyin Aboyade, said: “The time we have to prepare for the exam is short. We have stayed at home for about five months. We need time to get prepared for the exam, but unfortunately, it’s not so. Well, with the arrangement put in place by the school authority, I think we are safe.”
Enugu students can cope with online learning
In Enugu, a teacher at the Federal Government College Enugu, said the students will be able to cope with their exams as many of them participated in the online class organized by the school.
Also, the principal of Idaw River Girls Secondary School, Lady Carol Omeje, said with fumigation of the school premises and provision of hand sanitizers, running water, detergent, buckets, etc., the school was ready for resumption.
A parent, Mrs Ann Nwachukwu, whose daughter is preparing to take WAEC, expressed confidence in her daughter’s readiness, saying, “She and a few of her classmates have been doing online learning.”
Bauchi students pay N700 fee before entrance
In Bauchi, private schools have resumed and are preparing for the examination, having provided the safety requirements, while public schools will resume on Monday by which time the state ministry of education is expected to fumigate all public schools.
The state’s commissioner of education, Dr Aliyu Usman Tilde, who disclosed this on Tuesday, said the fumigation exercise which will last two days, would be carried out by the Bauchi State Environmental Sanitation Agency (BASEPA).
Meanwhile, a communiqué at the end of Education Stakeholders’ meeting for reopening of schools for exist students held last Wednesday, said all public-school students must pay the approved school fees of N700 before they are allowed to write the examination.
A student of Government Day Comprehensive Secondary School Saadu Zungur, Rukayya Yusuf, said “I am happy that the examination will hold, but I have developed a phobia for the examination. I read a lot and I attended extra classes for over three months. I pray fervently to succeed in the exams.”
In Kaduna State, State Commissioner for Education, Shehu Usman Muhammad, said schools will reopen on Monday for only SS3 students.
According to him, to make the school environment safe and conducive for academic activity, “the state government is doing everything possible to decontaminate, disinfect public schools including higher institutions, and provide handwashing facilities.
Daily Trust Saturday spoke with the State Chairman of National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS) Alhaji Jafaru Yusuf Ra’oji, who said their members in the state are completely ready to reopen schools.
An SS3 student of Command Secondary School, Abubakar Ahmed Musa, said: “I’m ready for the examination. My classmates and I have been taking lessons through Whatsapp in preparations for the examination.”
Lagos students 70 per cent ready
Our reporter who monitored resumption at Agidingbi Senior Grammar School, Oduduwa Senior Secondary School along Ladipo Road, Mushin and Ikosi Senior High School, among others, observed that the schools made provision for all the safety protocols.
A staff of Agidingbi Senior Grammar School told our reporter that the school had since began to use the revision timetable designed to help the students prepare for their exams.
A SS3 student at the Agidingbi Senior Grammar School, Eze Blessing, expressed happiness over school resumption, saying it will help her prepare better for her examination.
“At the moment, I am about 70 per cent prepared for the WASSCE but with the resumption, I will do better because there is power in collaboration and learning under a tutor amidst colleagues,” she said.
Another student of Ikosi Senior High school who gave her name as Favour said she was about 80 per cent ready for her exam, adding that the two-weeks revision in the school will further boost her preparation level.
In Plateau State, our correspondent visited some public and private schools to ascertain the level of readiness of students and teachers for the WAEC.
A SS3 student of TCNN Secondary School Bukuru Jos, Favour Achor, said she was ready for the examination and in high spirit because during the lockdown she was studying.
Another SS3 student of Kings Secondary School Dadin kowa, Mirad Praise Pam, said he was ready because he has been taking lessons at home all along.
Our correspondent further visited Government Model Secondary School in Pankshin Local Government Area and found the SS3 students cleaning the classes and dormitories while the teachers were in the staff room working on their lesson plan.
In Kebbi State, Nagari Science College and Government Girls Unity College in Birnin Kebbi all complied with the COVID-19 safety guidelines.
A student of Government Girls Unity College, Maryam Mohammed Lawal, said they were given face masks, provided with washing hand points and social distancing is strictly complied with in both their classes and hostels.
Chidimma C. Okeke (Abuja), Titus Eleweke (Awka), Hameed Oyegbade (Osogbo), Habibu Umar Aminu (Katsina), Richard P. Ngbokai (Kano), Romoke W. Ahmad (Minna) Victor Edozie (Port Harcourt), Magaji Isa Hunkuyi (Jalingo), Jude Owuamanam (Owerri), Ismail Adebayo (Ilorin), Hassan Ibrahim (Bauchi), Christiana T. Alabi (Lagos), Mohammed Ibrahim Yaba (Kaduna), Dickson S. Adama (Jos), Aliyu M. Hamagam (Birnin Kebbi) & Tony Adibe (Enugu)