When COVID-19 hangs the fate of over 1.3m candidates awaiting results
The fate of over 1.3 million final year students waiting to sit for the Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) in May/June is precariously hanging in the balance with the continued closure of schools nationwide as a result of rising figures of Coronavirus pandemic, writes FRANK IKPEFAN
The fate of final year students waiting to sit for the Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) in May/June is precariously hanging in the balance with the continued closure of schools nationwide as a result of rising figures of Coronavirus pandemic.
Their dreams of starting tertiary education this year is slowly grinding into a painful mirage unless drastic moves are made by the government to quickly return them to class and allow them sit for their qualifying examination.
These final year students form a considerable number of the 1, 904, 578 candidates that wrote the 2020 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination in March.
The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board allows final year students to sit for its examination using awaiting result, pending when such results are uploaded to the board’s portal.
Only candidates with the required O’ level (five credits, including Mathematics and English), are considered for admission.
According to the guidelines released by JAMB during the policy meeting on 2020 admissions into tertiary institutions last Tuesday, first choice admission is expected to commence on August 21. The admission processes is expected to end in November.
Going by the guidelines, it stands to reason that some of these final year students may have to forego their first choice institution if they fail to upload their O’ level results before August when admission processes would have commenced in various institutions.
Already, the Federal Government has given JAMB and tertiary institutions the go-ahead to conduct this year’s admission pending when a decision on candidates with awaiting result is taken.
The same government had, on April 21, announced the indefinite postponement of this year’s National Examination Council (NECO) and the West Africa Examination Council because of the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba made the announcement during one of the briefings of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19.
Although, the government said it was discussing with examination bodies in the country, the outcome of such discussion is yet to transform into reopening of schools for the final year students to take the crucial final examination.
Fate of 1.3m candidates hang in balance
According to the document on 2020/2021 admissions presented by the Registrar of JAMB, Prof. Is-haq Oloyede, at the policy meeting, about 1, 352, 988 candidates who scored 120 and above in this year’s UTME are candidates with awaiting results. Same with 930, 305 candidates that scored 160 and above.
At the meeting, the minimum cut – off marks for 2020/ 2021 admission of universities was pegged at 160, while that of polytechnics was pegged at 120, after a consensus by Vice-Chancellors, Rectors and Provosts of higher institutions in the country.
Going by this decision, 930, 305 candidates who scored 160 and above may not be able to present the necessary requirements for admissions into any university of their choice if schools continue to remain closed as they fall under the awaiting results list.
The same fate applies to 1, 352, 988 candidates who scored 120 and above, and may want to pursue admission in any of the polytechnics in the country.
Speaking during his presentation, Oloyede said that candidates waiting for their results will only be considered when they are uploaded on JAMB’s website. But the question is: when would that be?
The JAMB registrar said: “Awaiting result candidates will only be considered for admission only when they upload their results on our website not on the website of the institution. They must upload their O’ level results on the board’s portal before the commencement of admission exercise.
“JAMB allowed awaiting result candidates to register and also sit for the 2020 UTME. These candidates can’t be considered for admission on awaiting result status.
“They must upload their O’ level results on the board’s portal before the commencement of exercise. Their O’ level results form a crucial part of their registration requirements.”
Allow final year students to sit for examination, parents tell FG
Knowing the implication of the Registrar’s statement on the fate of their wards, the National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN), the umbrella body of parents of children in all schools nationwide, has appealed to the federal government to allow final year students to sit for the SSCE.
NAPTAN’s President, Haruna Danjuma, in a telephone interview, said the association has made its position known to the government through the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu.
Danjuma said: “We already have taken a position by sending a strong letter to the Hon. Minister of Education requesting him to rather please, that he should kindly allow candidates of SSCE to sit for their examination because they are fewer in number. They are very much fewer in number.
“If you are talking of social distancing, the number of students that are sitting in every centre, the highest in each of the centres where they have general paper, papers like mathematics or English are not more than 200 candidates for that centre and in that centre, you will be sure of having enough classroom accommodation where our children can be sitting for that examination and the spaces also are usually there.
“It is now left for the examination bodies – National Examination Council (NECO), West Africa Examination Council to arrange for how the children are going to seat and we parents, we are the ones to take care of the sanitisers, the water and the soap for our children to wash their hands and we will arrange to deploy face masks because they are our children.
“Our children in primary and junior secondary school, they are not more than 22 million in the whole country and out of this 22 million the ones that are in the senior secondary school, some of them are in the SS3 that may be preparing for this SSCE examination, how many are they?
“If they are allowed to attend that examination, if the examination bodies are allowed to prepare for them it is now left for the examination bodies to make necessary arrangements not to over stress the students, and not take longer time as it used to be so that our children can come and sit for their examination and find their way home.
“Subjects like agriculture and science like physics, chemistry, biology, government and Christian Religious Knowledge, they are fewer in number. How many are the candidates? We are the once supervising all these examinations.
“Government finds if difficult to understand the situation and we are not blaming the Hon. minister. We are blaming the Covid -19 committee. They don’t listen to anybody and time is not on our side.”
NUT calls for caution
But the Secretary-General of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, Mike Ene, differed with people calling for the reopening of schools for final year students to sit for the SSCE.
The Secretary-general of the union said: “I am a parent and I have somebody who is in the examination class (final year) who keeps telling me every day that she is tired and I pity her, I feel for her. But the point is that it is only when she is alive that she can think of tomorrow, think of getting admission; whether in Nigeria or outside Nigeria.”
NECO, WAEC awaits ministerial directive
However, officials of NECO and WAEC said they are ready to conduct the examination whenever they are given the go-ahead by government to do so.
The Head of Information and Public Relations Division at NECO, Sani Azeez said: “There is no update. We are expecting ministerial directive. You know the directive has to come from the federal ministry of education.
“We are ready for the examination. The examination ought to have started on the 28 of May. Before the outbreak of Covid -19, we were prepared. If not for the sake of Covid-19 we would have been in the middle of examination by now.
“The examination was originally scheduled for 28 May to July 10. Once we are given the go-ahead, we will conduct the examination. If we are given the directive to start tomorrow, we are ready.
WAEC’s spokesperson, Demianus Ojijeogu stated: “We were already prepared to conduct the examination before the lockdown came calling as a result of Covid-19. We are prepared.”
Fed Govt gives JAMB, institutions nod to conduct admissions
However, pending when the government can conclude arrangements for final year students in senior secondary schools to write their examination, it has asked JAMB and tertiary institutions to proceed with the conduct of 2020 admissions.
Nwajiuba, who gave the approval during the policy, urged JAMB and tertiary institutions to consider candidates with previous years SSCE and other qualifying results, to proceed with the admission process.
Speaking during the policy meeting, Nwajiuba said the government had been meeting with heads of examination bodies in the country on ways and means of responding to the challenge.
The minister said: “As major stakeholders, we must jointly come up with reactions that would realign our programmes to these new realities. While these reactions are being fine-tuned to check their capacities and capabilities to withstand the new reality, JAMB and tertiary institutions could take advantage of the current situation and consider candidates with previous years Senior School Certificate Examination and other qualifying results, to proceed on with the admission process.
“Whatever arrangement that the country comes up with in the long run, will surely accommodate those who will be taking the examination when the opportunity to do so is worked out.”
When COVID-19 hangs the fate of over 1.3m candidates awaiting results