The Federal Ministry of Education recently issued a press release directing all schools to reopen for exit classes on August 4. At once, it struck me, ‘ they will need help,’ I said, quickly posting a screenshot of the document to my WhatsApp status. The news comes as a surprise bearing that the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, had initially reversed a government decision to reopen schools in July.
The announcement follows an earlier directive from the ministry to school owners offering COVID-19 guidelines towards the resumption of schools. The new date is a consensus reached with relevant stakeholders.
Resuming lectures with little preparation is arduous enough, not to mention, resuming for exams. For administrators, teachers, and students, this abrupt call to duty would require assistance from all stakeholders. The following approaches could ease the burden of the August 17 WASSCE commencement.
Examination malpractice is an illegal way of helping students pass their exams but it is one way to help. With two weeks to prepare, students who have been away from school since March, having had little or no access to resources at home, and who have a poor reading culture could opt for the easy way out — aided by parents who would rather not pay the fees twice and officials in need of an extra income to settle heightened bills. Nigeria already uses independent observers at polling units, we could either deploy them at examination centres or risk rolling back efforts at curbing exam malpractice to opportunists in the education sector.
Also, topical tutorials could bail us out. Tutorial centres are instrumental to the success of students in exams because their model works. Simply, lectures are not organized following a strict, slow-paced curriculum as that employed in schools, but are systemic, direct, and intensified. Many of them use a two-hour style, in which a tutor who is versed in the subject teaches the most frequently asked questions. Since secondary school exams recycle questions, the predictability and mandatory use of past-questions for practice increase the chances of success for their students. The tutorial model rather than regular classes would serve better; the urgent learning need of students as they resume.
Shortly after sharing the press release, I updated my status with an offer to teach a free class on letter writing —a task in English essay writing —via Zoom. Civil society can help. Individuals can offer to teach various topics to exam candidates, notably to public school students. Offering to teach a class at the nearest school could ease the burden on teachers and boost the morale of students. Such an earnest act of assistance is not just a civic responsibility; it is a gesture of goodwill.
Besides, corps members who have not been engaged since April while being paid their monthly allowance owe it to the nation to resume at their places of primary assignment, especially if they were posted to educational institutions.
The abrupt resumption of schools is far from convenient, but the academic progression of secondary school students should never have been undermined. For what’s worth, the new resumption date is a call to serve.
Justice Eyo is a writing fellow at African Liberty and a sustainable and educational development enthusiast. He is an ambassador at the World Literacy Foundation and enjoys reading biographies and sharing inspiring stories.