By Adebayo Olodan
A potential stampede was averted at St Anthony Secondary School, Ilorin, one of the centres used at the weekend for the 2018 common entrance examination for primary school pupils across Kwara State.
Pupils from various primary schools converged on various centres as early as 7:30am but to the dismay of parents and guardians, materials and invigilators for the common entrance examination did not arrive until 8:30-9am.
Parents and guardians who were at various centres to pick up their wards after the examination were disappointed after being told by invigilators and supervisors to wait outside the gates of those centres.
At St. Anthony Secondary School, several nervous parents blocked the school gate and the major road preventing vehicular movement as they await the emergence of their children around 2:30pm on Saturday.
Many of them lamented that an examination which ordinary should not have lasted more than one hour to 90 minutes had dragged for over six hours.
Even after the pupils had concluded the examination, officers of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) had to disperse the mammoth crowd waiting outside the school gate by shooting rubber bullets sporadically into the air.
As soon as the NSCDC opened the gate, the atmosphere turned chaotic as some parents attacked each other while trying to gain entrance while a few of the children sustained various degrees of injuries while trying to rush out of the premises.
Speaking with our reporter, a woman who simply identified herself as Mrs Ibiyeye said, “I left home with my son as early as 6:30 am and got here about 30minutes later but surprisingly here I am still waiting to fetch my child after over seven hours at the centre.
“If the examination were to be that of Cambridge of that of tertiary institutions, there may be no need for worry but these are little kids, why keep them locked inside the centre for this long, when it is only common entrance examination they are writing today,” she lamented.
Similarly, Mrs Victoria Oyegun whose son wrote his examination at Government Day Secondary School Adewole, described the delay at the centre as avoidable saying she wasted several hours she could have used to attend to her numerous customers at the market, waiting for her child.
Reacting to the hiccups experienced at St Anthony’s Secondary School and other centres, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development, Hajia Maryam Garuba, blamed the situation on the late registration of about 4,000 candidates.
“As at Wednesday, we had only 53,000 registered candidates but because we allow for late registration in common entrance exam, we discovered that additional 4,000 pupils had registered in about 48 hours. This number exceeded the 2,000 extra question paper and writing materials we budgeted for hence the delay.
“As for the situation at St. Anthony, though I am yet to be briefed on the situation, I was at the centre and I’m aware that most parents prefer enrolling their wards at the school hence the mammoth crowd at the centre,” she disclosed.
…candidates on hijab denied entry
By Adebayo Olodan
There was mild drama on Saturday as the management of St Anthony Secondary School, Ilorin, denied female candidates for common entrance examination hijab, entry into the centre.
St Anthony is a faith-based school and one of the 450 Junior Secondary Schools used as centre for the 2018 common Entrance Examination across Kwara State.
The affected pupils were said to have been instructed to forfeit the examination or remove their hijab before being allowed into the centre but for the timely intervention of the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development, Hajia Maryam Garuba, who prevailed on the management to allow them in.
Hajia Garuba, who monitored the exercise at St Anthony’s Secondary School between 10 am and 12pm and other centres in Ilorin, faulted the decision of the management to turn back candidates wearying hijab saying it was wrong for them to determine the dress code for the candidates.
Speaking with our reporter on how she was able to resolve the impasse, Hajia Garuba said, “I informed the management and staff of the school that the candidates are not under their rules yet until they gain admission into the school.
“At that point, it was not their duty to determine dress code for the pupils because they belong to other schools and they are only at St Anthony’s for a purpose, which is the common entrance examination.”
Speaking further, the Permanent Secretary warned the management of schools in the state against actions and utterances that could cause religious crisis.