Critical stakeholders in the education sector have called on the federal government to provide all the facilities required for a safe reopening of public and private schools during this era of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The stakeholders, 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) disclosed this on Thursday.
The stakeholders were reacting to a document that was sent by the federal government titled: “Guidelines for schools and learning facilities reopening after COVID-19 pandemic closure” to the National Assembly.
According to them, the conditions were too stringent for some of the schools to meet up with.
Recall that the federal government had on Tuesday, sent a document titled: “Guidelines for schools and learning facilities reopening after COVID-19 pandemic closure” to the National Assembly.
Among the conditions listed by the federal government for the reopening of schools are that each school should have temporary isolation space and fully equipped clinic.
Other conditions include the provision of more classrooms and employment of more teachers so that students can sit at least two metres apart, provision of water, soap, sanitizers, infrared thermometers and referral system including protocols to observe in the event a pupil or student becomes unwell in school.
National President of ASUU, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, reacting to the issues said that the 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.
Lagos state Chairman of the NUT, Otunba Adesina Adedoyin, advised that the government should come up with something realisable.
“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 added.