Emeka Nwajiuba, Minister of State for Education, has disclosed that more than 1.2 million candidates in Nigeria expected to write the 2020 West African Examination Council (WAEC), cannot afford internet facility.
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The minister said this while justifying reasons why the federal government decided to reopen schools for graduating students, a move that has been condemned by some stakeholders.
Nwajiuba, who stated this on Channels Television on Wednesday, assured parents and teachers that the federal government has instituted adequate measures to ensure the safe resumption of schools for exiting pupils.
He lamented that some parents have already engaging their children in street trading, following the closure of schools over the coronavirus pandemic.
He stated further that the decision to reopen school was taken to allow pupils in Primary 6, students in SSS3 and SSS3 have brief revisions before their promotion examinations, as not all of them have access to technology or devices for online learning.
“We understand the limitations of Nigerians. Most people cannot afford laptops and devices and we know that not all our children have the same access. And if there are people who do have this access and who feel confident that their children are ready for these exams, nobody is compelling anybody to go to any school,” he said.
“What we have done is to make the facilities of our schools available. Each school should have places to wash hands, check the temperature of the children constantly, have sanitisers. Private schools should be able to provide these and state governments too. The Federal Government owns just about 104 unity colleges.
“So, it’s really not a compulsion; we are just making the facilities available for the purpose of taking the exams for those who want to take the exams. But it will not be a responsible act by the government to then say because there are some people who may not want to take the exams, that we should not make the facilities available for those who may want because life is a continuous journey of choices and our children have been at home.
“We have 1.5 million children registered for WAEC this year and we know that internet penetration for this group is less than 300,000. So, it will be the height of injustice not to make these facilities available for others to learn.
“We know that children at the moment are at home; they mingle with their parents, with friends or with those who go to the market and come back or those who go to the mosques or churches. They do all kinds of activities. Those that are well off could afford to keep their children watching TV but some are using their children as hawkers – we are losing people we are trying to bring back to school and if do not do anything about this, we will just lose all the children altogether and you will not be able to return them back to school eventually.”