The federal government of Nigeria, through the ministry of education had last week announced the resumption of students in both primary, secondary and tertiary institutions across the country.
This announcement was sequel to the rising spate of the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic with attendant increase in reported cases in the country. The concerns raised by parents and other education stakeholders across the country is not unfounded. This is as the nation announced the highest daily Covid-19 deaths of 23 victims just last week.
It is therefore worrisome that, the same government that is in the forefront of containing the pandemic is still the same government asking students, including under-age pupils to resume for the 2nd term in the face of glaring threats to the lives of these innocent children.
Lending it’s voice to the need for taking a second look at the January 18 resumption date, a Non-Governmental Organization known as Education Rights Campaigns said re-affirming January 18, 2021 by the Minister of Education as the date for school reopening has failed to assure students and staff about their safety as schools prepare to reopen amidst the raging covid-19 pandemic.
The body added that, not providingnecessary measures to curtail the spread of the virus is tantamount to matching both the students and staff to slaughter slab. This was contained in a press release signed by Ogunjimi Isaac, Deputy National Coordinator and Adaramoye Michael, Acting National Mobilization Officer of the organization and made available to newsmen on Sunday.
The concerns over the safety of school children amidst the January 18 school reopening is more worrisome in Lagos State. For a state that has continued to maintain the lead in the daily upsurge of Covid-19 cases in the country, one wonders why the State government will agree to open its overcrowded public schools and private schools that are usually not well monitored.
Stakeholders are worried that the same Lagos State Government, who through its Head of Service, Hakeem Muri-Okunola had last week announced that civil servants from GL 14 downwards should work from home and only report to the office twice in a month due to the fact that many civil servants (adults) in the state were testing positive for the Covid-19 disease is eager to open its schools for 2nd term resumption, hence exposing innocent children and teachers (who are also civil servants) to avoidable health risk.
The question that has remained unanswered is why the State government chose to apply two different rules for its Staffs- Civil Servants and Teachers in the State, giving that both are exposed to the same (and in the case of teachers, a higher) risk of contacting the rampaging virus.
Much as no one wished for the level of economic ‘lockdown’ witnessed last year 2020, especially as it affects children studies and the education sector in the State, a lot of caution and restraint is required from the LASG if we must avoid a negative backlash of this ‘hasty’ decision.
States like Edo and Anambra with lower Covid-19 incidences compared to Lagos State recently announced an extension of its tentative second term school resumption dates till February 1st and January 26 respectively. It is therefore a no brainer for the LASG with more staggering daily Covid-19 cases to reconsider it’s planned 2nd term school resumption.
Extending school resumption date by another 2 or more weeks would obviously not do so much damage as it will afford the government a good time to manage the current upsurge and bring down the number, while also putting more effective measures in place to avoid an ‘imminent’ third wave of the pandemic.