Ahead of the August 17, 2020 administration of the West African Senior Certificate Exams (WASCE), the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has donated a consignment of coronavirus prevention materials to the Ministry of Education (MoE) for use by all schools currently hosting 12th graders who are expected to sit the exams.
The donation ceremony, which took place yesterday at the Tubman Central High School in Sinkor, saw authorities of the MoE expressing gratitude for the gift, which is meant to help health authorities combat the deadly COVID-19.
In remarks, UNICEF Deputy Representative to Liberia Samuel Mawunganidze said the donation of the buckets and sanitary materials was the UN agency’s own way of helping the government prevent COVID-19 from invading the education sector, which is already challenged by the pandemic.
“We are happy that we have got the opportunity to work with the Liberian government in ensuring that students and staff as well as the administrators stay safe in this crucial stage of humanity’s existence.
We are confident that with the proper use of these materials, the safety of all on campuses across the country is assured,” Mawuganidze said.
Mrs. Roseline Sherman, acting Superintendent of the Monrovia Consolidated School System (MCSS), thanked UNICEF for the positive thought and action and promised them that the MCSS will continue to work with all of its controlled schools in order to make sure students and all others adhere to the health regulations, mainly by wearing their face masks and continuously washing their hands.
Minister of Education Ansu Sonnii lauded UNICEF for the gesture and assured them of his office’s commitment to work with all schools, public and private alike, to obey health regulations by using face masks and washing their hands.
“We took a risk with the 12th graders in this terrible health crisis time but are confident that with the use of all preventive measures, we will have good results,” Minister Sonii said.
He said 12th graders or grade school seniors were allowed to return on their respective campuses simply because they are the most mature category of students attending all grade schools across the country.
“We have 6th and 9th graders whom we know will sit the West African Examinations (WAEC), but we let them remain home yet while we put in place a mechanism that will help in controlling them when they shall return to school. This is so because we don’t want to get school campuses overcrowded,” he said.
Minister Sonii said 12th graders are mature enough to listen to advice and follow instructions and also the experience with them will determine how his Ministry will plan for the resumption of academic activities for students in the lower classes.
“Time is relatively very short when it comes to the preparation of our senior students for the WASCE but we are confident that they will make us proud as they did last academic year,” he added, noting further that schools closed in March and students have not been learning until on June 29 when schools were opened for the 12th graders.
“Six weeks is the time we have between June 29 and August 17. It is very crucial but last year we had our students coming out third in rank when it came to mathematics. Even though most of them have not been studying their lessons, we expect no less than what they did last year in the exams,” Sonii said.
The Education Minister called on all schools to make an effort in securing gallons, cut them from the top, and designate them for hand-washing.
“While the supply of these materials is still underway for all schools now preparing the 12th graders, let them not be idle. Work hard and put in measures to help save the lives of the students and those of you who are taking care of them,” he said.
Sonii added that monitors from the Ministry may not be all over the schools at the same time but it will make sense if people complain of schools not abiding by the health regulations.
“It is not about being drastic, but we will come to any school that is not following health protocols, and will ensure the protocols are adhered to,” he assured.
He pointed out that if academic activities for lower classes should resume, 5th grade down to the nursery classes will not return for studies but schools will be allowed to prepared learning materials for those students in order to keep them busy.
About 41,000 12th graders are expected to sit this year’s WASsCE across the country.
Sonii, his remarks, said that he will work closely with the Health Ministry in order for a mobile health unit to be available for schools.
It can be recalled that in Nigeria recently, scores of students (12th graders) were infected with COVID-19 due to a lack of stringent measures.