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Today, Monday 17th August the 2020 West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) for school candidates commenced across Nigeria under strict COVID-19 protocols. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) earlier reported that 1,550,000 candidates would be participating in this year’s examination spread across 19,129 centres nationwide. The examination, which was supposed to commence on April 6 to June 5, was suspended due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Patrick Areghan, the Head of National Office (HNO) of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), told journalists during an inspection tour of some centres in Lagos that he was impressed with the level of compliance with the COVID-19 protocols. “Firstly, let me offer thanks to God that the much-awaited examination for this year has finally commenced today”
“As I speak, this examination is going on simultaneously across all member states in the region”
“As you already know we have visited a couple of schools in the state on this first day of the examination and I will like to say I am highly impressed with what I saw on ground in terms of compliance level by everyone participating in this examination”
“We all observe the rules by washing our hands with soap and water, carry(ing) out temperature checks, use of hand sanitisers and face masks or shields”
“Even the sitting arrangement of the candidates are very well established by ensuring a two-meter gap from each other”
“So, if you ask me, I will say I am very impressed with the level of the compliance of the COVID-19 safety protocol and the smooth take-off of the examination,” the HNO said.

Mr Areghan warned that the council would deal decisively with any act of malpractice, irrespective of who was involved. He warned principals of schools that they would equally not be spared, if any act of malpractice was recorded in their respective schools in the process of the ongoing examination.
“Right now, with the aid of technology we have caught a supervisor in Nasarawa and a candidate in Rivers trying to snap a question paper and send outside for solution”
“These persons have since been handed over to the security agents for necessary actions”
“We will stop at nothing to ensure that the integrity of our examinations are not compromised”
“I will like to let you know that the Federal Ministry of Education is very interested in the process and conduct of this examination”
“In fact, as we speak, the Minister of State for Education, is currently in Imo to monitor the examination too, just like all other top officials of the ministry”
“So, together, we will ensure that this examination comes out highly successful,”Mr Areghan said.

He, however, dismissed the possibility of lowering the standard of the examination as a result of the pandemic, adding that it would not be obtainable.
“Let’s not delude ourselves that because of COVID-19, WAEC will lower its standard”
“This examination was supposed to have commenced by April 6. Before then, it was expected that these candidates would have covered their syllabus”
“With the outbreak of the pandemic that affected all activities in the country, they had enough time (to) further get themselves better prepared”
“So, for those who prepared, they will surely record success and for others who played with their time, too bad, as WAEC will never compromise standard,” he said.

Mr Areghan said that the council was faced with the challenge of increased cost of conducting the examination, as it had engaged more supervisors and invigilators. He, however, assured that WAEC would do everything within its reach to ensure the smooth running and outcome of the examination. NAN reports that schools visited included Baptist Academy, Obanikoro, BABS Fafunwa Millennium Senior Secondary School, Ojodu and Agidingbi Senior Grammar School, Ikeja, all in Lagos State. Indeed, its good to know, that the long awaited W.A.S.S.C.E has started today. Having continued relentlessly in individual study and preparation towards the examination, despite the earlier interruption in academic activities because of the COVID-19 pandemic that required that everyone should stay home to stay safe; this is a good news for many candidates and their parents/guardians.

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