COVID-19 fears: Mixed reactions as WASSCE begins today

Written by on August 17, 2020

Claims by state governments that they had made adequate preparations for students taking the West African Senior School Examinations, which would start today (Monday), attracted mixed reactions from parents and teachers on Sunday.

State governments told newsmen that they had fulfilled all the guidelines released by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to prevent a further spread of COVID-19 during WASSCE.

While some parents expressed satisfaction with the preparations, others said state governments were making claims that did not exist.

Some parents, lamented that COVID-19 had become a tool by schools, particularly private ones, for exploiting students.

Parents said the need to provide face masks, personal protective equipment and other non-pharmaceutical items had increased their financial burden.

In Ogun State, the Special Adviser to the state Governor on Primary and Tertiary Education, Mrs Ronke Soyombo, said apart from teachers in senior schools, all teachers in junior schools were mobilised for the two-week revision for students.

Soyombo in a chat with newsmen said all students were given two face masks, adding that each school had thermometers, running water and buckets.

But some teachers, who spoke with newsmen lamented that as of Friday, the personal protective equipment had yet to be made available in schools.

While some teachers said they had yet to make provision for social distancing, others said the classrooms had been arranged for the exams.

A teacher, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “As of Friday, there was no provision for the PPE for both teachers and students. Some schools were given facemasks, sanitisers, soaps, infrared thermometer with buckets. Certain schools were given tanks.”

A parent, who spoke on condition of anonymity said: “The school of my children has mandated us to get them at least three face masks, tissue paper, sanitizers and face towels. All these would be shown at the school entrance and if students do not have them, the school won’t allow them in. All these will constitute a financial burden for poor parents.”

Teachers grumble as workload increases

But some teachers lamented that they were still being paid a small amount of money despite their increased workload.

The teachers, who confided in newsmen, said some of them were still being paid N10,000 per month.

The Public Relations Officer of the state Ministry of education, Mallam Salisu Kerau, said the state had already commenced monitoring of schools to ensure that the new hours of lessons were complied with.

In Sokoto State, a female teacher at Nana Girls School, Sokoto, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “Apart from the hand-washing basins with water and soap, and the mandatory use of face mask, there are no any extra cautious plans to check the spread of coronavirus as the terminal examination starts on Monday.”

Not all parents can afford tutorial classes — Retired civil servants

On his part, a retired civil servant, Mallam Sani Maifata, said, “It is not all parents that are buoyant enough to arrange extra lessons for their children during the lockdown.”

In Enugu State, a student of the Community Secondary School, Ubahu, in the Nkanu East Local Government Area, Miss Eze Chinemere, told one of our correspondents that students were mandated to provide their face masks.

The Akwa Ibom State Commissioner of Information and Strategy, Ini Ememobong, said adequate provisions had been made to ensure strict compliance by students with COVID-19 guidelines.

However, parents, who confided in The PUNCH, said government was “unnecessarily giving credit to itself.”

One of them said, “We have not seen any of the preparations government is talking about. I have two children sitting for WASSCE. I have not seen anything like face masks and sanitisers, government has given to them.


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