The Nigerian government says it is not safe yet, for schools to resume thus, students in their final year will not write exams organised by the West African Examinations Council WAEC, as earlier announced.
Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu made the declaration on Wednesday, while briefing State House Correspondents at the end of this week’s virtual cabinet meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said the examination body, WAEC cannot dictate for government what to do or when to resume schools.
“Schools under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Education will not reopen on August 4th or any time soon. Our schools will only open when we believe it is safe for our children and that is when the situation is right, not when the number of COVID-19 infection is going up in the nation. So, I just want to make that clear,” Adamu said.
When asked if only students in Senior Secondary School 3 (SSS3) and Junior Secondary School 3 (JSS3) due for their final or promotion exams would be affected, the Minister stressed that government cannot risk the lives of such students.
“We will not reopen schools now for examinations or any other reason unless it is safe for our students; even WAEC because WAEC cannot determine for us what we do so schools will remain closed.
“Yesterday we called a meeting of stakeholders to tell us their situation and what needs to be done in order to reopen schools but while the meeting was going on, WAEC announced that they will start exams so let’s see who they are going to start with,” he said.
The Education Minister however used the opportunity to appeal to schools that have already re-opened to rescind their positions.
He also said State governments that have already announced the reopening of their schools to reconsider because it is not safe for schools to open.
He said: “I feel responsible for the whole children in Nigeria not just those in Federal government-controlled schools. Please let’s save our children from this.
“You can look at this scenario; just one infected child going into a class, can infect everyone in the class and after classes they go back to the hostel; because children cannot observe social distancing as expected. If one child in the hostel is infected, the next morning, everybody will be infected so this is not the right time to open schools.”
Adamu said if given the choice as Minister of Education, he will not mind Nigerian students losing a whole school year in order to save students from COVID-19.
“Their health is more important than any examination they are going to write and WAEC is a parastatal of the Ministry of Education and they should not determine for the government what it does. I think they should change their date or we can do without them,” the Minister warned.
The Minister stated clearly that what he said was not part of resolutions at the day’s cabinet meeting but he needed to clear the air on the matter, stressing that certain protocols have to be met and schools have to be decontaminated before they reopen.