By Temitope Owotoki
Hundreds of Senior Secondary School (SSS) Three students are expected to be affected by the clash in the dates set by both the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), for their examinations slated to commence this week.
While the Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) conducted by WAEC is slated to commence with practical exercises on Monday, April 8, and end on Friday, June 7, the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) by JAMB, is scheduled to commence on Thursday, April 11.
Mostly affected by the clash in date are SSCE candidates who are billed to take subjects like Plumbing and Pipe Fitting, Animal Husbandry, Printing Craft Practice, Auto Mechanical Work, Health Education, Foods and Nutrition, Arabic and French, among others, who may not be able to sit the UTME.
More than 25 subjects will be affected by the clash. These include Animal Husbandry which SSCE praticals hold between 9:30 a.m. and 12:10 p.m. on April 11, a period time the UTME will also be holding.
Other SSCE subjects including Physical Education, Home Management, Health Education, Foods and Nutrition, among others which fall between April 11 and 17, when the UTME examination will hold are also affected.
To avoid such clashes, especially since JAMB introduced the computer-based test mode which changed UTME from being conducted in one day to spanning more days, JAMB had initiated the inter-examination-bodies’ meeting to compare notes among the leadership of all the examination bodies.
The other concerned examination bodies apart from JAMB and WAEC include the National Examinations Council (NECO) and National Business and Technical Examinations Board (NBTEB), which is responsible for the conduct of the National Business and Technical Examination accepted for admission into polytechnics, colleges of education and monotechnics.
However, it was learnt that Mr. Isaac Adenipekun, the head of Nigeria’s Office of WAEC, did not attend the meetings but sent in representatives who could not make critical decisions.
Premium Times reported that at the meeting which held in January in Abuja, the WAEC representative could hardly make any meaningful contribution to discussions “simply because such decisions are bigger than the representative and he would need to get back to the HNO in Lagos on every issue.”
“When others have their CEOs in attendance, only WAEC would be represented by a very junior staff. In fact, you would see the annoyance on the faces of the other CEOs because there has been no commitment from WAEC.
“The HNO would not come to meeting and wouldn’t even bother to know what the outcome of the meeting was. The man seems to be acting as if WAEC is bigger than Nigeria. Maybe because it is a regional examination body, but the interest of Nigeria should be larger than that of any other nation,” a source privy to the meeting told Premium Times.
“WAEC would tell you it is a regional examination body and cannot take decision alone. Yet, more than 60 per cent of its candidates are Nigerians. Both the Registrar and the HNO are Nigerians but they cannot protect the interest of Nigerians.”
The source added that JAMB had initially considered reviewing its timetable for the sake of the students but apart from the fact the examination body had “rescheduled too many things this year because of the general elections, WAEC has also not shown any concern since the matter was raised. The arrogance is something we cannot tolerate any longer.”
“What WAEC does not know is that it has an alternative. When candidates notice frequent clashes they will opt for NECO that will not clash with UTME. Maybe by then, the ego of WAEC management would have been deflated,” the source added.
Howeevr, Demianus Ojijeogu, the Head of Public Affairs Unit of WAEC, explained that the clash in the dates was not unusual and that it is a school-based examination and not private-candidate examination like its November/December option.
He, however, disagreed that the HNO had not been attending the meetings, deliberately, saying he was sure he had also attended such a meeting alongside other staffers of WAEC to represent the examination body.
“No one can blame WAEC for the clash because we cannot singlehandedly change timetable in Nigeria. WAEC is a regional examination and requires the input of all the five-member states.
“And I won’t also agree that we are not in talk with JAMB to resolve this. I want to believe talks are on but until it is concluded, we cannot say anything,” he said.
Also, Fabian Benjamin, Head of Media and Public Relations of JAMB, said the Board tried to carry everyone along to ensure that the candidates are not affected negatively in any way.
“The 2019 general election was actually responsible for the dates we chose, but even at that, we ensured that the window period created during the inter-agencies meeting was respected. We did this because we knew that many of our candidates may have registered using “awaiting results” status.
“We knew many would be taking part in 2019 SSCE either the one conducted by WAEC or NECO.”
He added that even during admission processes, JAMB had ensured that everyone was carried along so that all SSCE results are released before admission processes start.