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The Nigerian government has reiterated the indefinite postponement of this year’s West African Examinations Council (WAEC) and the National Examinations Council (NECO) due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the country.

Both examination bodies had earlier announced the postponement of their exams.

The Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, made the stance of the government known at the daily Presidential Task Force briefing on COVID-19 in Abuja on Tuesday.

“We have announced that WAEC and NECO for the year have been postponed. This postponement is indefinite at the moment,” he said.

Both examinations were slated for May and June 2020.

The government had on March 19 ordered the immediate closure of all tertiary, secondary and primary schools as part of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 virus.

As of Wednesday morning, Nigeria has recorded 782 cases of the disease, of which 197 have been treated and discharged and 25 deaths recorded.

Schools reopening

Nwajiuba said the federal government is working on options for schools to reopen.

He noted that nobody can reopen schools until all efforts have been coordinated by the government.

“We will also be looking at what we will do for schools to reopen. As you recall, we asked that schools be vacated in the last part of March 2020 as soon as this pandemic broke out.

“The lockdown in various parts of the country will definitely affect whether students and teachers come to school or not.

“So nobody can reopen schools until we have coordinated all efforts,” he said.

He further explained that some provisions have been made for students to learn online.

“We have made provisions available online. The Directorate of Information and Communication Technology has opened a portal.

“In conjunction with the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), the coordinating agency will anchor an alliance with State Universal Basic Education Boards in all the states so that they can key into our design,” he said.

Electronic learning

Mr Nwajiuba said 15 states had already commenced electronic learning for pupils on their local television and radio channels following the stay-at-home orders of the federal and some state governments.

He appealed to parents to cooperate with the government to ensure that their children were made available to learn at the designated hours and channels.

“About 15 states have already commenced learning via different channels that are available in their states, mostly local TV and radio.

“All the programmes they are running are approved by the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Commission. Some of those states are Anambra, Lagos, Kaduna, Ondo, Edo, and Ogun. There are different education programmes for different times,” he said.

Challenges

The minister said the biggest challenge of the government is how to reach pupils who are living in rural communities without devices to learn.

“Our biggest challenge is how to reach children who do not have devices. Because they do not have that is why we are pressing with the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria and NTA as the last end to dial.

“We already have programmes running along those lines with adult education, we just want to instil some of that and make it available for primary and secondary school students,” he said.

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