Hon. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, Minister of State for Education

How Nigerian tertiary institutions will reopen very soon, says Minister

*Private varsities request they be allowed to reopen ahead of public institutions

*ASUU not recalcitrant to call off strike but under pressure from members

*Education stakeholders call for redesign of curriculum to accommodate changes

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Without giving a deadline for the reopening of the country’s tertiary institutions of learning as the Ministry engages other stakeholders in the education sector, Hon. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, Minister of State for Education, has assured Nigerian students currently at home because of novel Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), that their institutions will reopen very soon.

Hon. Nwajiuba, while participating in an NTA programme, ‘Nigeria Policy Brief on Education and COVID-19’, monitored Saturday, August 22, disclosed that he had received calls from both private and public universities for reopening of tertiary institutions in the country.

The Minister stated that he would examine the situation report from the National Universities Commission (NUC), and other regulatory bodies of various tertiary institutions and present such to the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 for evaluation.

He said: “Tertiary institutions across the country will open very soon. Private universities have written us, requesting that they are allowed to reopen ahead of public institutions.

“Vice-Chancellors have also requested that we allow them to reopen for their students in exit clauses.

“We have also a lot of calls from bodies who want us to resolve the industrial action embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) before reopening because some public schools which are not ASUU-prone want to take the advantage of the strike to move ahead, but that would destroy our public schools.

Nwajiuba stressed that he would work on all these calls, and there is a need for the NUC to do its appraisals and bring it to him.

“We are waiting for the same from other tertiary institutions bodies so I can situate them and present the PTF on COVID-19.

“I can’t give the NUC a deadline on this because our job at the ministry is to wait for their inputs. This is not a political decision alone,” he said.

The Minister of State for Education stated that reopening of the university system is like reopening the country.

He added: “ASUU should call-off the strike because the issues they came on board with have been resolved, more or less. The body is making efforts to situate the visitation panel, though, that has to be gazetted and we are on it.

“I know ASUU is not recalcitrant because it is under pressure from the members too.”

Meanwhile, stakeholders in the education sector in Nigeria have urged the Federal Governments to redesign the school curriculum in order to accommodate all the changes while the nation continues to move with normal activities in amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Jacob Adeyanju, a lecturer and management consultant at the Department of Educational Management, Faculty of Education, University of Lagos, (UNILAG), stated this during the Teachers’ Appreciation Programme (Best Virtual Class Teach for Change (TFC 2020) and announcement and presentation of winners organised by the Julienne School Support Foundation via Zoom in Lagos Saturday.

The don noted that the society must not continue to assume that things will remain same way for life in the education sector of the economy.

According to him, with lessons learnt from the outbreak of the pandemic, “as a school or an institution, we should be able to accommodate whatever changes we will witness in life.

“We must be able to teach for change. We are only deceiving ourselves if we continue to assume that things will remain the same way for life.”

“Life is bound to change. It is important for the school system to be able to design a way of coping with changes.

“Since life is not stagnant and the society keeps moving from one level to another, then, we must be able as a school, as an organisation, as an educational institution to cope with these changes by redesigning our curriculum, teaching method, laws and also accommodate all the changes while we continue to move with our normal activities in the lockdown.”

In regard to the use of technology in the COVID-19 era now, Adeyanju said: “We have got a kind of double benefit if one can effectively use technology.

“It will first of all serve the purpose of the regular benefits of the normal instructional materials, as well as enable us to continue to move despite the pandemic.

“The pandemic paralysed almost all human activities worldwide. With technology, we have come to realise that we don’t have to ground all our activities, including teaching and learning in the classrooms.”

He opined that technology has enabled the society to engage in continuous learning amid the Coronavirus.

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