Stakeholders in Nigeria’s education sector have faulted the Federal Government’s decision to reopen schools without first meeting all the requirements for safe reopening in government-owned schools nationwide.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), the National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN) and the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS), reacting to the document on “Guidelines for schools and learning facilities reopening after COVID-19 pandemic closure,” sent to the National Assembly, these groups said the Federal Government should provide all the facilities in its recommendation in its public schools to ensure a safe reopening of public and private schools.
The unions said the conditions given by the government were too stringent for some of the schools to meet up with. The Federal Government had asked schools to provide temporary isolation spaces, fully equipped clinics, more classrooms and employ more teachers so that students could sit at least two metres apart.
ASUU President, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, said government should stop dancing around the issues. “When we met them two weeks ago, the six conditions they listed were different from these. Between then and now, what has changed? Who should be responsible for the provision of these facilities they are talking about, is it not the government?
“The government is not taking responsibility. What they ought to say is that we are making these things available before schools will reopen. We should address the fundamentals and stop dancing around issues. The government should show the way by making all these available in public schools.
“It is not just a matter of you prescribing something; you too should take the medication you are prescribing for others. That is why we are calling on the government to adequately fund the education sector,” he said.
The Ogun State NUT Chairman, Otunba Adesina Adedoyin, also said that the government should come up with realistic conditions. “We presently have public schools that are overcrowded and where the teacher-student ratio is poor, and where even furniture is not adequate.
“Will it not be a white elephant project if they want to start building clinics in public schools now? What can be done is to make test centres accessible and close to schools.
“Students, teachers, and others in the school system should wear face masks, wash hands regularly and use infrared thermometers to check body temperatures among others, but, saying each school would wait until a clinic is built is not feasible.
“To reduce overcrowding in schools, my take is that students in overpopulated schools should be spread to schools with low population,’’ he advised.