Mr. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, Honourable Minster of State for Education Photo: File

COVID-19: Government presents proposal on schools’ reopening to NASS

*Giving a tentative date would result in misrepresentation by the public, says Minister

*Expresses concern over Oyo State Government’s decision to reopen schools amid spread of virus  

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

As Nigeria considers options for safe reopening of schools, Mr. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, Honourable Minster of State for Education, has presented to the National Assembly (NASS) a proposed date for the much-expected reopening as a post COVID-19 measure.

Agency report indicates that Nwajiuba made the presentation during a meeting with the Senate Committee on Basic and Secondary Education on the Ministry’s plans for pupils who have been forced to stay at home following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

The Minister of State for Education stated though the government had said that schools for some categories of students would be reopened “soon”, however, giving “a tentative date” might lead to misrepresentation by the public.

Nwajiuba recalled: “We said we are going to experiment with some people and these are children from exit classes.

“In the document we have provided, we have suggested how we can move our education sector forward in this pandemic period.

“We don’t want to make it known at this period so that some people will not take our proposal for guidelines for schools reopening.

“This is because people publish fake guidelines every day which I always come on air to debunk. What we have now is a proposal.”

The Minister further stated that “even if the Senate has not called us, we would have come to you to discuss with you because we have already discussed with the House of Representatives.

“The documents were presented to you so that you can criticise and make inputs as major stakeholders”.

He, however, expressed concern over the decision of Oyo State Government to reopen its primary and secondary schools despite the current rising cases of Coronavirus infection in the country.

Nwajiuba wondered why the Oyo State Government currently battling with increasing cases of new infections should be eager to throw open the gates of its schools when its neighbouring states were employing caution.

“Why is Oyo State talking of reopening schools when it has just started recording increase cases of Coronavirus infection.

“Just beside Oyo is Ogun, which was part of the three states under the FG’s lockdown since April is not talking about schools reopening.”

Sen. Akon Eyakenyi, Vice-Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Basic and Secondary Education, who presided over the meeting expressed the fears that the academic calendar could be distorted in public schools where no visible arrangement was being made to teach the children at home unlike their private schools counterparts.

According to her, public schools students were made to rely on educational programmes on radio and television stations whereas they tune to stations showing cartoons whenever there was no adult to guide them.

Eyakenyi said that children in public schools had no access to online classes like their counterparts in the private schools.

While noting that the arrangement regarding radio and television stations is not working, she asked that “even when the students in the cities have access to education programmes on radio and televisions, what of those in the villages? What do we do so that we don’t shut them out?

“If government can give guidelines for the reopening of churches and mosques, stakeholders in the education sector could also hold a meeting with the government to agree on guidelines for schools reopening.”

The Senate Committee Vice-Chairperson stated: “All we need to do is to come up with measures that would ensure the safety of both the students and their teachers.

“We can design a plan that would make sure that not all the students resume at the same time. We could probably start with the exit classes.

“We have to be innovative in our approach to save our educational sector in this country because nobody knows how long the virus will be with us.”

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