The West African Examinations Council (WAEC) has vowed strict observance of the protocols against the spread of coronavirus disease to protect the candidates and its staff during the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).
The examination body's head of its Nigeria national office (HNO), Patrick Areghan, said this in an exclusive interview on the phone with PREMIUM TIMES.
He said WAEC "would not risk the life of anybody." He said any centre that fails to meet the standard required for the safe conduct of the examination would be reported to the appropriate authorities for sanction.
He, therefore, advised school owners and management of various participating centres to step up their efforts towards putting in place preventive measures ahead of the examinations.
This is coming exactly one week to the commencement of the examination, which has been rescheduled to kick off on August 17.
He said; "I don't think there is any school that will not want to comply with the COVID-19 protocols because I know that the Federal Ministry of Education and the state counterparts are going round for inspection of facilities. In fact, the Honourable Minister himself joined them in inspecting schools. This is an issue that is strictly within the purview of the Ministry of Education.
"But if we notice any that falls short of expectation, we will immediately report to the relevant ministry of education, so that they can raise immediate action because we don't want to risk the life of anybody."
Speaking about WAEC's preparation, the HNO explained that the agency was prepared.
"We will ensure that all our staff wear face masks and provide them with hand sanitisers. There will be buckets with hand washing basins and running water. At various exam centres, we will ensure two-metres spacing is maintained. That is why we make it to be at least two supervisors per centre should the number of candidates be more than what a hall could accommodate.
"So we will have those we call 'chief invigilator' and two supervisors per centre. So once we do all these, we strongly believe that we are good to go."
The HNO, however, noted that provision of first aid facilities should be the responsibility of the participating centres, and urged them to make available necessary items that could enhance a conducive atmosphere for the examination.
Also speaking on the likely performance of the candidates, Mr Areghan said it is erroneous to think the students' performance will be poor this year. He added that the postponement of the examination from April to August should be viewed as an added advantage to the students.
"Anybody can speculate, but any candidate who is desirous of a good certificate and wants to achieve something in life will study hard. This exam was supposed to be taken in April and even the unscheduled ones were supposed to begin by the end of March. So it is assumed that all learning and revision will have been concluded by March. So, this is just an extension of time for preparation of the exam," the HNO said, adding that; "So, I don't see any reason why anybody will say we were not taught this or that."
He said the examination body would not lower its standard due to the pandemic, and advised the candidates to avoid any form of malpractice before, during and after the examination.
Asked whether the examination body would pay its staff hazard allowance, the HNO said those engaged by WAEC are usually paid for services rendered, and that the situation would not change now.