The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has rejected the amendment made to the timetable for the 2018 May/June Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSCE), saying it would only be satisfied if the Islamic Jumat prayer time is kept free throughout the examination.
The West African Examination Council (WAEC) had fixed the writing of Chemistry for between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. on Friday, April 20, which was later rescheduled for same time on Tuesday, April 10.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported how Islamic clerics criticised WAEC for scheduling some papers to coincide with the Friday Jumat prayer, a compulsory prayer for Muslims.
In a statement it issued on Monday, MURIC said through its President, Ishaq Akintola, that the ideal step remained for WAEC to avoid fixing exams for periods Muslims observe Jumat.
“We demand a WAEC timetable that leaves the 12–3 pm window which Muslims need for Jumat service untouched. An ideal examination timetable for Friday will therefore be 9:00 am to 12:00 noon and 3:30 – 6:00 pm. In fact, heaven will not fall if examinations are limited to morning period on Fridays,” the statement said.
The group described the amendment of the timetable as an act of ‘confusion’.
“WAEC appears confused because there are three other clashes on the ‘amended’ timetable which WAEC did not address at all,” the statement said. “Social Studies (Objective) is slated for 1:00 – 1:50 pm on Friday 4th May, 2018 while Electronics (Objective) is also billed to take place between 1:00 and 3:00 pm on Friday 11th May, 2018. Woodwork is equally scheduled for the same day from 12:00 – 3:00 pm. So how do we reconcile all these? WAEC is out to slay Muslim candidates.”
It said the council needs to ”withdraw its first timetable, issue a press statement and follow up with the publication of an amended timetable”.
“For instance, we need to know whether or not, some Muslim candidates take these two subjects (Ceramics and Forestry). Yet this may not be the end of our inquiry even if no Muslim candidate has registered for the subjects this year because some Muslim candidates are likely to show interest in them in the near future”, he said.
The statement said the amended timetable is an ”act of stereotyping the muslim students and the subjects they can offer in schools.”
It said the ministry of education owes it a duty to ensure that no educational exercise capable of stirring civil disturbance is allowed to take place under its watch.
“Once is happenstance, twice is a coincidence but the third time is enemy action. The 2015 incident was not the first time. Is WAEC targeting Muslim candidates for destabilisation? It appears the only language WAEC understands is force. Although Muslims will not resort to the use of force, we will resist WAEC’s illegal, unlawful, illegitimate and unconstitutional manipulation of its timetable to deprive Muslim candidates of their Allah-given fundamental right to worship,” he said
Mr. Akintola said fixing the courses during Jumat period is capable of causing disturbance of public peace.
“Nigeria has witnessed enough religious riots and the ministry must call WAEC to order. Muslim candidates and their parents will be left with no choice than to mobilise to WAEC examination centres in peaceful protest if this complaint is ignored,” the statement said.
When contacted, the Director of Public Affairs, WAEC Nigeria, Demianus Ojijeogu, told PREMIUM TIMES the council amended the time for the Chemistry paper, which it considered a major course. He said ”only few or none of the candidates offers these other courses in contention”.
“The candidature is very small, where you have two or three people writing these papers. Social studies is not meant for Nigerian candidates, as it is only done at the junior secondary school in Nigeria, it is meant for candidates in Ghana,” he said.
According to him, Nigerian candidates offer Basic Electronic and not Electronics.
”Basic Electronic is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and the candidates are very few, some schools do not have candidates for the course at all,” he added.
“Woodwork has two sets, the 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. is the first set. When you write the first set, you cannot write during the second set which is 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. The muslim candidates can write during the first set. That is why there is an alternative.”