Secondary schools across the country have been ordered to reopen on August 4, 2020, for students in Senior Secondary School Class three to commence preparations for this year’s West African Examination Council, WAEC, which is expected to start in Nigeria on August 17.
The Federal Government gave this order on Monday in a press statement issued by the Director of Information, Federal Ministry of Education, Mr Ben Bem Goong, after a virtual meeting of officials of the ministry with Commissioners for Education in the country in Abuja.
The Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, is scheduled to meet the leadership of examination bodies such as the West African Examinations Council, WAEC, the National Examinations Council, NECO, and the National Business and Technical Examinations Board, NABTEB, on Tuesday on the need to harmonise their examination timetables.
The federal government was silent on Junior Secondary School 3 students and primary six pupils, however, iBrandTV gathered that Continuous Assessment may be used in some states to promote them to the next class.
In the course of school closure, the FG also rolled out some conditions that it said must be met before reopening the schools.
The conditions were contained in a document titled, “Guidelines for schools and learning facilities reopening after COVID-19 pandemic closure.”
According to the document, each school is required to create temporary isolation space and fully equipped clinics before reopening.
They are also to establish a referral system, including protocols and procedures to take if learners, teachers, administrators and other education personnel become unwell while in school.
Apart from that, the Federal Government in the document mandated any state wishing to reopen schools to hold adequate consultations with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and the parents.
The guidelines also require school proprietors to construct additional structures and employ more teachers to ensure that they accommodate their pupils by adhering to the two-metre spacing system in classrooms.
Proprietors of schools have also been asked to seek grants to procure soap and buckets, ensure regular safe water supply, ensure a constant supply of learning and instructional materials and pay salaries on time.
School premises are to be decontaminated among others.
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Meanwhile, while reacting to the development, the National President of the National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria, NAPTAN, Haruna Danjuma, described the development as a good one.
He said: “We thank the Federal Government for listening to the suggestions by various groups, including NAPTAN, that final year secondary school students should be allowed back to school to sit for their final examination.
“Some of the students sat for this year’s Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations conducted by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, and they would lose out in this year’s admission into tertiary institutions if not allowed to write WASSCE at the appropriate time.
“We are going to reach out to our national officers and state officers to monitor the situation in their localities. We are all concerned about the health and safety of our children.
“With this phased reopening of schools, it won’t be difficult to maintain social and physical distancing. And as we assisted in the provision of some items during the Ebola crisis, we are ready to do so this time around.”
Speaking in a similar manner, the National President of the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools, NAPPS, Chief Yomi Otubela, appreciated the roles of the Minister of Education and his team.
“We thank the Honourable Minister and the Honourable Minister of State for their fatherly roles. We are ready and our members across the country are fully ready too. We have started work on implementing the 52-page document on the requirements for school reopening and since less than one-third of the population of schools will resume, we envisage no problem in keeping with all the safety measures.
“We have our Quality Assurance Committee that is going round schools to monitor the situation and the government has its own monitoring team too. We are also appealing to state governments to let our members know whatever is required of them. This is because some states may have situations peculiar to them,” he said.
The Lagos State Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, Otunba Adesina Adedoyin, said his members are always ready to do the job they are paid for.
“Apart from what the Federal Government has said, each state government will look into their own situation and come public with their decisions too. So, in that regard, I learnt that some stakeholders are meeting with officials of the Lagos State Government later this week and the government will announce its decision.
“On our part as a union, we are also helping our members with some of the things they would need like face mask, sanitiser and so on. Necessary precautionary steps must be taken to ensure the safety of lives of teachers, students and other persons in the sector. We are managing lives,” he said.
Recall that on March 19, 2020, a circular from the Federal Ministry of Education granted approval for the closure of all school for a period of one month commencing from Monday, March 23, 2020, to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus disease in the country.
However, with the pandemic not abating, the schools were not reopened after the initial one month period.
During the closure, there has been policy somersault on the part of the FG on school reopening and Nigerian candidates taking this year’s WASSCE.
On July 6, the Minister of State for Education, Mr Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, after a meeting with stakeholders in the sector in Abuja, announced the readiness of the FG to reopen schools and take part in WASSCE.
Based on the announcement, WAEC on July 7 said WASCCE would start on August 3, but the senior education minister, Malam Adamu Adamu, announced the following day that Nigeria would not take part in the examination.
He said WAEC could not dictate for Nigeria and that the government would prefer students losing a session than risking their lives.
Following the controversy that trailed Adamu’s statement, the 19 Northern states met in Kaduna where their education commissioners passed a resolution that they would not take part in WASSCE in accordance with Adamu’s position.
However, states in the South-West geopolitical zone, after a meeting in Ibadan, Oyo State, issued a statement that they would partake in the WASCCE.
Before now, Oyo and Ekiti states have asked their students in terminal classes to resume.