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THEWILL EDITORIAL: Exclusion of Sokoto, Zamfara, Kaduna Public Schools’ Students From WASSCE

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The 2022 West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), which started on May 25, comes to an end this week. By June 23, a total of 1,607,985 candidates from 20,221 private and public schools across the country who registered for the examination would have written their last papers.

According to the West African Examination Council (WAEC), the regional examination body, 800,055 students representing 49.76 per cent of the participating students are males, while 800,724 students, representing 50.24 per cent are females and about 30,000 “practising senior teachers, nominated by various ministries of education,” are participating in the May/June diet of the examination as supervisors.

However, it is sad to note that SS3 students in public secondary schools in three Northern states – Zamfara, Sokoto and Kaduna – are missing out on this examination for the second year running These three states in the North-West geo-political zone are also among educationally-disadvantaged states in the country with large numbers of out-of-school children.

Students of public secondary schools in Sokoto State were not registered for the examination due to the inability of the state government to provide WAEC with the mandatory Continuous Assessment Score (CASS) of the students. The state government, instead, chose to register its students for the National Education Council (NECO) examination and the National Business and Technical Education Board (NABTEB) examination which are not globally competitive.

In Kaduna State, some 701 students of five government-owned schools and four private secondary schools, who had paid a whopping N12.61 million as registration fees, were also shut out of the examination for the inability of their schools to upload the CASS of the students as at the April 1 deadline given by WAEC.

The case of Zamfara State is very pathetic. The state is said to be owing WAEC several years’ outstanding arrears incurred by previous administrations and this has continued to shut public schools’ students in the state out of the WAEC examinations. Yet, the state governor, Bello Matawalle, seems not to be bothered as he is more concerned with settling traditional rulers in the state.

While the reasons given by each of the three states differ, the common denominator is the nonchalance of their governments to public education.

THEWILL condemns this attitude as we call for a total commitment to the education of the youth in these three states, in view of the devastating impact of the activities of terrorists and bandits in North-West Nigeria.

We recall that earlier in April, the Zamfara governor, Matawalle, rather than clear some of the outstanding debts to WAEC in order to guarantee the future of the teeming youths in the state, chose to buy over 200 luxury cars for traditional rulers in an apparent show of affluence.

The governor gave out Cadillac 2019 Model cars to 17 Emirs, 13 Senior District Heads and 230 District Heads across the State. As if that was not enough, he also extended the bazaar to clerics and marabouts as he sponsored 97 of them to Saudi Arabia for the lesser Hajj to pray for security in the state.

We consider these actions of the governor as misplaced priorities. It is sad and unfortunate that despite the resources at its disposal, when compared to other neighbouring states in the North-West, Zamfara, whose governor splashed over N11 billion on a car bazaar for its monarchs and paid huge sums of money to pacify terrorists and local bandits, has only one university – the Zamfara State University, established two years ago. Sadly, the state university currently operates from a primary school with only four permanent staff. Infrastructure development in the state is also at a zero level, except the cosmetic facelifts in Gusau, the state capital.

In Sokoto State, Governor Aminu Tambuwal would rather choose to spend N40 million on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential Nomination and Expression of Interest forms and other huge sums of money in the pursuit of his ill-fated presidential ambition than to use the funds to secure the future of public schools’ students in his state.

We find the reasons given by the state government quite inexcusable. Mohammed Bello, spokesperson for Governor Tambuwal, would rather blame WAEC for the exclusion of the students from the state.

“Instead of supplying the state government with the required financial propriety code in compliance with the state’s fiscal transparency, accountability and sustainability programme, which stipulates correctness in all financial dealings, WAEC chose to ask for an advance payment of 40 per cent on the 30,000 candidates proposed for sponsorship by the government last year,” Bello had alleged.

WAEC on its part dismissed Bello’s claim, saying, “at no time did the council ask for upfront payment,”‘ adding, “The state government asked for 100 per cent credit facility, and we refused it.”

Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State has also done more harm than good to public education in his state through his unpopular policies. Yet, the same el-Rufai is now positioning himself for national leadership despite his failure at home. Private education is not in any way spared either and schools in the state have been shut for several months because of the activities of terrorists and local bandits, who have been subjecting schools in the state to serial attacks and abductions for ransom.

While we call on the leaderships in the three states to do the needful and cooperate with WAEC for the sake of the students, we commend WAEC’s resolve to continue to dialogue with all stakeholders in the states concerned in order to settle all outstanding differences in a bid to deliver quality examination to Nigerian students.