FG reads riot act as schools resume in Lagos, Kano, Benue, Oyo

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Minister of State for Education Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba has said the federal government would sanction erring schools and violators of guidelines to ensure safe school re-opening.

Nwajiuba said this Monday  during a one-day stakeholders’ meeting of states in the  North-west zone on the readiness for safe re-opening of schools organised by the United Nations Children’s Fund, (UNICEF) with support from the donor for GEP 3, Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, FCDO held at the Tahir Guest Palace, Kano, Kano state capital.

The minister said the meeting was imperative to deliberate and adopt the national guidelines and template towards safe re-opening of the schools after about seven months of closure due to COVID-19 pandemic.

He said: “The Federal Ministry of Education has developed the safe school readiness template for an integrated approach to safe school re-opening. The template required the full engagement of all stakeholders which was considered a sine qua non for successful implementation.

“It is in view of the above that the Ministry considers it expedient to hold this stakeholders’ meeting at this time to plan and address the eventual safe re-opening of schools and learning facilities, nationwide.

“We all know that great accomplishments are made based on synergy. It is on this premise that we are all here to deliberate and adopt the template for safe re-opening of schools and learning facilities. The template has some key roles and shared responsibilities to be played by the stakeholders at National, State, LGA and the school levels. It is imperative to ask the question ‘What are you doing in your state that is different from what is in the template?’

“I urge you to critique the template assiduously for the benefit of Nigerian school children. Similarly, we have already put in place a monitoring and evaluation mechanism to check erring states or schools.”

Similarly, Kano state Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje said the meeting was unique and timely as it was to finalise the level of readiness of the states and schools for the safe re-opening of the schools for the wellbeing and safety of the school children.

Ganduje, represented by Deputy Governor Nasiru Gawuna, said the state had put in place measures towards safe re-opening of the schools which include continuous disinfection of the schools, rehabilitation of schools and provision of the Personal Protective Equipments (PPEs) for both public and private schools in the state.

Describing Buhari administration’s policies and programmes  in  the education sector as a veritable tool for  national development, the governor said: “I wish to acknowledge the commitment of the federal government in the education sector, particularly at this time when schools are about to be reopened.”

The governor also stated that his administration recently released the sum of N880million for the renovation of some schools across the state.

Earlier, Chief UNICEF Field Office Rafid Saleh pledged its support to the federal and state governments to ensure schools were safe and ready to guarantee a safe, secure and supportive learning environment for all children in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In attendance at the stakeholders’ meeting were commissioners of education and health, chairmen of state universal basic education board (SUBEB), directors from Kano, Katsina, Kaduna, Jigawa, all in the zone.

Lagos schools

Meanwhile, some private schools in Lagos state recorded a large turnout of students following the state government’s directive on resumption Monday.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that on Aug. 29, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu directed primary and secondary schools to reopen.

Sanwo-Olu gave the direction during the 17th update on the management of the coronavirus pandemic in Lagos.

 A NAN correspondent, who visited some schools in the state, reports that water, soaps, hand-sanitisers and infrared thermometer were provided by the schools’ management.

At Honeyland Schools, Ipaja, parents were seen trooping in to drop their children while observing social distancing in registering them.

Also, compulsory wearing of nose masks and social distancing in classrooms were observed by students and teachers.

A big banner displaying the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines was seen at the entrance of the school.

The school Principal, Mr. Oluyemi Faleke, said academic activities would start immediately.

Faleke said the school had concluded the second term examination before the lockdown while the third term examination was conducted during the lockdown.

“Before the resumption, we conducted three online entrance examinations for the new students.

“In all classrooms, we are maintaining social distance by displaying a sticker of “Do Not Sit Here”.

“Teaching starts from 8.00 a.m. to 2.00 p.m. and virtual learning is still available for students who do not want to resume yet,’’ he said.

NAN, however, observed that some schools at Iyana-Ipaja and Egbeda areas were still locked and there was no sign of resumption.

At Victoria Island and Lekki, some private schools continued to teach their students through virtual learning.

At the Senior High School, Alimosho, only Junior Secondary Three (JS 3) and Senior Secondary Two (SS 2) students were allowed to enter the school premises with face masks or shields.

Security officials at the Faith Academy, Gowon Estate, Ipaja said that only SS three students have resumed while others will be resuming on Thursday.

Mr. Abdul Ademola, Principal, Homat Group of Schools, Odogunyan, Ikorodu said that the school would keep guiding the students on COVID-19 protocols.

Ademola said management had reduced the number of students in a class from 20 students before the lockdown to 12 students as part of the effort to prevent infection.

“We are all happy to resume back to school after staying home for too long.

“There is no automatic promotion in our school, we are going to engage all classes with lectures, continuous assessment and examination,” he said.

Mrs. Olanike Ayoola, a parent at Honeyland schools expressed confidence that her children were safe with the school because of the guidelines being maintained.

“I am so confident in my children’s school; they are ready for the students’ resumption.

“During the lockdown, they educated us on the safety protocols against COVID-19,” Ayoola said.

Another parent, Mrs. Kehinde Ojewoye, corroborated Ayoola’s confidence, saying she was not scared of COVID-19.

According to Ojewoye, the school is fully prepared for the students’ resumption.

She said teachers should just maintain social distancing with their students to avoid any issue.   

Oyo primary, secondary schools resume 

In another development, public and private primary and secondary schools in Oyo state Monday resumed full academic activities after six months of forced COVID-19 holidays.

As early as 7am, students in the primary and junior secondary schools from across the state were seen heading for their various schools with nose masks.

Some of the students, particularly the primary school pupils, were sighted with their parents accompanying them to the schools to ascertain the level of preparedness in the schools.

In most of the schools visited by our correspondent in Ibadan, the COVID-19 protocols laid down by the state government were firmly adhered to as water and soap for hand washing as well as hand sanitisers.

It was learnt that the schools, most especially the privately owned ones, because of their relatively small numbers, were able to comply with the distancing and spacing part of the COVID-19 protocols.

Monitoring the resumption, the state government warned head teachers of public primary schools in the state against non-compliance with COVID-19 safety guidelines as  it queried some schools for failing to comply with extant guidelines for resumption of schools in the state.

Speaking during the monitoring exercise, Chairman Oyo State Universal Basic Education Board (OYSUBEB) Nureni Aderemi Adeniran, who led a team of management members from standard and quality assurance department of the board,  frowned at the poor compliance of teachers and pupils in some schools, as some of them were seen without facemasks and floating social distancing instructions.

Adeniran stressed that the compliance level was not encouraging with the team not meeting some teachers on duty while pupils did not comply with extant guidelines of social distancing and use of nose-masks.

Benue records low turnout

And from Benue state, our correspondent who went round some of the schools reports that resumption of students witnessed low turnout after more than five months of COVID-19 lockdown.

The state government had Wednesday announced Monday, 21st September, 2020 for resumption of all schools across the state.

The government had ordered the closure of all schools in the state Friday, 27th March, 2020, as part of measures to prevent coronavirus in the state.

However, the education directorate of the Catholic Diocese of Makurdi, Gboko and Katsina Ala following the directive by the state government to allow reopening of schools in the state, rescheduled resumption of students for 28th September.

Education Director Catholic Diocese of Makurdi Rev Fr. Terungwu Tor, directed teachers to resume on 21st September, noting that resumption of students would be on 28th September.

He said the decision was necessary to allow the schools to complete the admission process and plan for the resumption among other things.

It was observed that there was low turnout across both government and private primary and secondary schools, especially in Makurdi, the state capital.

At Happy Day Nursery and Primary School Makurdi, few pupils were seen hanging around the school with no teacher to attend to them.

At the Lady Victoria Academy Secondary School and Saviour Model College, only students of JSS3 and few students were seen cleaning the classes. The situation was the same at Government College Makurdi.

Principal of Lady Victoria Academy, Mrs. Gladys Ikyreve, who spoke with Blueprint, said the school hoped to fully resume 28th September.

“The announcement for resumption by the government was sudden and we have made preparations to welcome the students. We have been home for more than five months and we need to put many things in place before school activities will fully begin.

“Majority of the students you see on the school premises here are those of JSS 3 and SSS 3 who had earlier resumed for their final year examinations,” she added.

Kwara meet stakeholders  

Also in Kwara state, stakeholders would meet with the ministry of education to determine the reopening of schools in the state Wednesday.

School proprietors, as well as teachers’ unions, had before now protested the continued closure of schools since the government shut down schools to contain the spread of COVID-19 in March.

Announcing the development, the state Commissioner for Education and Human Capital Development, Fatimah Ahmed, said the meeting was called to ratify the proposed 2020/2021 academic calendar.

In a statement issued Monday, the state government said the ministry had prepared the proposed 2020/2021 academic calendar which may start very soon based on the ratification by education stakeholders.

“Hajia Ahmed also revealed that the ministry, in conjunction with UBEC, has started sensitisation of Head Teachers and Principals on the need to adhere strictly to the NCDC guidelines in order to flatten the curve of Covid-19,” the statement said.

She also said the ministry had directed all education secretaries to inspect the level of preparedness of schools in their locality and advise the government on other areas requiring urgent attention in order to avoid students contracting COVID-19.

The commissioner, the statement added, however, reiterated the commitment of the present administration to providing all necessary precautionary measures that would guarantee the safety of students and pupils.

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