The West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) commenced, on Monday, for exiting senior secondary students in both private and public schools across Nigeria amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Staff, students and other officials observed laid down protocols including hand washing, temperature check and, more importantly, sitting apart to observe social distancing.
The examination, which had been delayed for three months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, started yesterday with Mathematics.
Our correspondents visited some schools across the states and observed that there was a high level of compliance with the COVID-19 protocols by students and officials.
In Kano, all the schools visited conducted temperature checks before students were allowed into examination halls for the examination.
Some of the students who spoke to Daily Trust said social distancing was strictly observed in the halls, even as they lamented what they said was poor preparation on their part due to the pandemic.
The students often organized themselves into study groups to share ideas and firm up their readiness for exams. This, however, became impossible due to the social distancing protocol set by the federal government to help contain the spread of the COVID-19. The students expressed fear about the likely effects of their poor preparations on their results.
A student of Rumfa College, Abdullahi Aliyu said, “Our problem in this exam is the way social distancing is being enforced and because of this we are not allowed to have group discussions contrary to what used to be our culture before exams.”
Another exam candidate, Abubakar Abdulsalam, said the use of face mask and hand sanitizer was a precondition for entry into the exams hall.
“All of us had our face masks because without it you won’t be allowed into the school premises not to talk of the exam hall. And for the exam halls, you must wash and sanitize your hand after your body temperature is checked,” he said.
In all of the schools visited in Kano, our correspondents report that only one student was allowed per seat in compliance with the COVID-19 social distancing protocol in the examination hall.
The Director, Governors’ College Kano, Malam Ado Arzuka, commended the state government for its effort at ensuring that requirements for safety protocols against the pandemic were provided but called for more intervention for the forthcoming NECO examination.
199 public schools and 329 private schools had fielded candidates for the exit exams in the state.
Among the schools visited yesterday were Government Girls College Kano, Rumfa College, Government Girls College Shekara and Governors’ College Kano.
In the FCT, some secondary schools visited by our reporter complied with the protocols as students were seated wearing face masks and also adhered to the social distancing rule in the school hall.
A student of Government Secondary School (GSS) Tudun-Wada, Garki, Abuja, Francis Donald, who spoke with our reporter, said he observed the COVID-19 protocols.
Another student from Government Secondary School (GSS), Life camp, Abuja, who sat for the mathematics exam, Emmanuel Shedrack, confirmed observing the COVID-19 protocols alongside other candidates.
He said they were divided into separate groups after they were given question papers in order to adhere to the COVID-19 guidelines, adding that every student also wore face mask and sanitized their hands before entering the class.
It was further observed that the staff and invigilators of the schools visited were all wearing face masks.
In Lagos, the COVID-19 protocols were also observed in some schools visited by our reporter.
Our reporter observed that at St. Joseph Secondary School along Idi-Mangoro, Agege, the students were seated in a big hall, with each student assigned to a desk in line with the social distancing protocol and all wearing face mask and face guard, same thing the invigilators and supervisors.
The school management made provision for wash hand basin with soap and hand sanitizers as well as infrared thermometer for checking temperature.
The principal of the school, Dr. Iseyemi Adegboye Augustine, said the examination hall was disinfected immediately after the first paper (Mathematics essay) before the objective paper which began at 3pm.
“So far, no case of exam malpractice has been recorded but I believe that the sitting arrangement does not encourage cheating,” he said.
Also at Bakre Disu Oshodi High School, along Oniwaya road in Lagos, the 71 students who sat for the examination were divided into three separate classes with one student to a desk in compliance with the COVID-19 social distancing guideline.
All the students also wore nose masks and they washed and applied sanitizer on their hands before entering and while going out of the school premises.
A student of the school who gave her name as Najeemdeen said the mathematics questions were okay and not beyond her expectation. “I am expecting an excellent result in this paper by the grace of God,” she said.
Bolade Grammar School, also ensured that candidates observed all the protocols and guidelines provided in the school.
In a chat with one of the class teachers, Mr T. Ogunbona at Kayb High School in Ire Akari, Isolo, he said there was adequate spacing between the students. A bench which hitherto sat four students was now being used for two students with a distance of 6cm between, he said.
At the school, hand-washing stations were provided for the students and thermometer was also used in monitoring the temperature of each of them before allowing them entry into the examination hall.
“Last week, government officials from the state Ministry of Education were at the school to assess the preparedness of the school before the examination commenced,” Mr Ogunbona said.
At Turning Point School also in Ire Akari, Lagos, there was enough space within the school premises and that paved way for the students at the examination hall to observe safe distancing. All necessary COVID-19 precautions were put in place at the school.
During a visit to Isolo Senior High School around Aye in Isolo, their invigilators and supervisors joined the students to use face shield along with their face masks.
The public school, which is said to have 60 students in a class is being used by only 25 students to give space for each student.
In Maiduguri, Borno State, both public and private schools adhered strictly to the COVID-19 protocols as students began their exams.
Students wore their face masks and applied sanitizers before going into the school premises.
All the schools provided hand washing points at their entrances with inscription on the gates: “No Face masks, No Entrance.”
The principal, Federal Government College Maiduguri, Alhaji Umar Habeeb Jibril, said the schools provided about 1,000 face mask for staff and students.
He added that each student was asked to come along with at least three face masks to complement the efforts of school.
“We have provided face masks for everyone. In our hostels, the number of girls was 74 and more than 200 boys,” Umar said.
The Vice Principal Administration, Namu Secondary School, Mr Daniel Dung, explained that “both the invigilators and students observed the social distancing and face masks directives.”
Some of the schools visited by our correspondent included Maiduguri Capital School, Namu Secondary School, Ruby Spring Field, Maiduguri Women’s League and Government Girls College and Shehu Garbai Secondary School.
In Kaduna, the COVID-19 protocols were observed by the students and school management.
All students wore their face masks before entering the school premises and also in the exam halls.
Water containers were provided at the gates for the students to wash their hands as well as sanitizer.
The morning paper, which was supposed to commence around 9am, started around 10am in the schools visited.
At Government Girls Secondary School Maimuna Gwarzo, Tudun Wada, the students maintained social distancing in their classes.
The principal of the school, Hassana Ibrahim, told Daily Trust that only 20 students sat in a classroom to avoid overcrowding.
She added that wearing face masks and hand washing are compulsory for all the students.
“We also provided hand sanitizer for our invigilators, not only for the students. We make sure everybody wore his or her face mask in the class,” she said.
Similar situation was observed at Sheikh Abubakar Gumi College, Zango Road. The school made use of the halls and maintained social distancing.