ANOTHER step towards the reopening of schools will be taken today as Federal and state governments meet to review the level of compliance with the conditions.
The 52-page guidelines released by the Federal Ministry of Education is designed to navigate the path for the resumption of pupils in exit classes to enable them write their external examinations despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
A decision on the return to school by exit class pupils may likely be taken at the end of today’s meeting.
The ministry’s virtual meeting with Commissioners of Education and special advisers on Education in the 36 states and the Education secretary of Federal Capital Territory will also pick a likely date for the safe reopening of schools.
The meeting will be attended by officials of the National Examinations Council (NECO), National Business and Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB) and the West Africa Examinations Council (WAEC).
Also expected are representatives of the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS), the umbrella body of private school owners and the All Nigeria Conference of Principals of Secondary Schools (ANCOPSS).
But National President of NAPPS Chief Yomi Otubela said on Sunday that he was not aware of the meeting.
Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Education (FMoE) Sonny Echono said a decision on 2020 West African Senior School Certificate Examination organised by WAEC will be taken having received a feedback on the options available to Nigeria from the examination body.
He said the government had agreed on a date to hold the national common entrance examination into unity colleges.
The permanent secretary said the date for the common entrance examination will be announced at the end of today’s meeting.
Minister of State for Education Emeka Nwajiuba had last week said Nigeria was open to the option of writing the General Certificate Examination (GCE) organised in November/ December.
Echono said: “We (FG), all the commissioners of education, examination bodies, private school proprietors, ANCORPS, Secretary of Education, FCT and other stakeholders are going to meet tomorrow (today).
“We have invited them so that if they require explanations and their own input we will hear from them at once.
“The subject is for us to decide on the issue of reopening of schools for all the exit classes to take their final examinations.
“We have already agreed on a date for the common entrance. That one is for primary schools so it is not an issue. It doesn’t have much problem. The date will be announced after the tomorrow’s meeting.
“We have received a feedback from WAEC on what options are available and we want to discuss those when the new date will be and let us agree as a group and not just impose our view on the others.”
Director of Information in the ministry, Ben Gong, said: “The emphasis is on the exit classes who are going to do WASSCE, NECO, Common Entrance and NABTEB, With the decision they (WAEC) took, by next month they should be starting the examination. Being a bigger customer we said no.
“We want to meet within us to discuss and look at the timetable. WAEC is proposing either August or November. We are saying since we have a number of exams there is nothing cast in stone to say that we must start with WAEC.
“Since WAEC is saying next month; which we have disagreed with or November, the exit classes can resume and start preparations and do all these exams (NECO, NABTEB and common entrance) then we will meet WAEC by November.”
Some of the conditions given to state by the Federal Government include school management, provision of infrastructure for social distancing, disinfecting schools, provision of water and soap for handwashing, the provision of infra-red thermometers, the use of face mask, appoint incident managers, appointing classroom wardens, among others.
National President of NAPPS Otubela said he was only aware of a meeting to review preparations for resumption scheduled to hold on July 30.
He said: “The one I heard about should be on 30th of this month but I have not confirmed the Invitation.
“Until after that meeting before update. They have asked schools to fill a form based on the 52-page guidelines and submit by July 29. After July 29 there will be a meeting.”