FG in Bewilderment Over Reopening of Schools

The Federal Government was in a state of bewilderment on Monday over the reopening of schools in the country which led to it issuing guidelines for school resumption, although the date for resumption of school was not disclosed.

The guidelines for the reopening of schools were contained in a document titled, ‘Guidelines for schools and learning facilities reopening after COVID-19 pandemic closures: Taking responsibility for safe schools and quality learning and was signed by the Minister of Education Mallam Adamu Adamu and Mr Chukwuemeka Nwajuiba, the Minister of State for Education.

This was a new development after the Federal Executive Council at its Meeting on Wednesday put the already planned resumption of graduating classes on hold stating that it was not safe to resume schools because of the pandemic.

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Recalling that the presidential Task force on Covid-19, on June 29, during its press briefing stated that the federal government had approved the resumption of graduating pupils in SS3, JSS3 and Primary 6 respectively, saying that the resumption would allow pupils prepare effectively for their final examinations, revealing that that West African Examinations Council had fixed the WASSCE for between August 3 and September 5.

Despite putting the resumption on hold, the Federal Ministry of Education issued guidelines for the reopening of schools on Monday.

In accordance with the guidelines, the safe distancing measures requires that learners are to be supported to stay two metres apart in school and other learning facilities and where the two metre rule could not be reasonably applied other risk mitigation should be applied.

It reads thus:
“In these circumstances, risk assessments must be undertaken with the best interests of the learners, teachers and other education personnel in mind. The scenarios require organizing learners and children into small groups with consistent membership and compliance to the risk mitigation strategies. The membership of these groups should not change unless the NCDC public health guidelines suggest otherwise.”

With the release of the document, the Federal government said it will conduct a rapid assessment of funding requirements for upgrading infrastructure such as classrooms, furniture and water to meet the prescribed safe school reopening requirements.

Adamu speaking on the guidelines said, “Given that that the COVID-19 may be with us for a while, the guidelines also highlight the urgent need to maintain and improve upon distance-learning programmes. Our aim is to identify and strengthen programmes that will guarantee the recovery of learning gaps resulting from the pandemic.”

Nwajuiba insisted during the press conference that there was no policy somersault on the planned reopening of school. He said that Mallam Adamu Adamu is consistently in tune with what have been said in the PTF, reiterating that they didn’t open any school.

“ He (Dr Adamu Adamu) was only giving what he has received which was the timetable as published by WAEC and advised that this period, from now till when the (WASCCE) examination will take place sometime in August, anybody who wanted to use the schools would have to follow guidelines.”

However, he said that he is not in charge of private schools and schools under the concurrent list and power have been devolved to sub nationals who can take a decide on their state-owned schools, if they will take part in the WAEC exams or not.

FG rejects financial help for private school owners
The Minister of State for education has however ruled out the possibility of the Federal Government assisting private school owners financially to survive the pandemic.

He advised them to take advantage of the central bank of Nigeria’s window which had been provided by the federal government to support small and medium size scale enterprises for salary augmentation provisions and loans.

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