All You Need To Know About School Resumption In Nigeria
For about 5 months since the end of March, Nigerian students have continued to remain at home under the lockdown instructions of the NCDC in obedience to the CoVID-19 protocols. Since then, a lot of controversies have trailed the plans for school resumption in Nigerian as many students have started getting frustrated as to when it will be as lockdown restrictions are being lifted.
The Corona Virus Pandemic Factor
The Corona Virus pandemic started like just a normal disease infection outbreak on that fateful day of 27th February 2020 in Wuhan China. Little did the world know that the disease will eventually result in over half a million fatalities globally. As infections peaked then in Italy, several countries were still not heeding the signs and closing their border. Nigeria was one of such countries.
It took until the infection cases in the country started being on the rise, before President Muhammadu Buhari announced the lockdown of the country, including all educational institutions on March 26, 2020. Four months on, the curve for CoVID-19 infections has started to flatten in the country and lockdown measures have been relaxed. Unfortunately, students have continued to remain at home despite the reduction in the daily number of infected.
Attempts at School Resumption
The Federal government first gave the go-ahead order for final year secondary school students (JSS3&SS3) to reopen on the 4th of August, 2020. Thus was to enable them to prepare for their passing out examinations. The implication was that the exam classes will begin their S.S.C.E and J.S.S.C.E examinations respectively with immediate effect.
Unfortunately, Tertiary institutions were not included in the report at that time because the governing body of the National Universities Commission (NUC) and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has not yet decided on that.
The Federal Minister of Health Hon Osagie Ehanire and his team made assurances that schools can only resume if the ministry of education and the governing bodies of the tertiary institutions can display their readiness to obey CoVID-19 protocols. This started another waiting period as to when school resumption in Nigeria, can finally be announced.
Nigeria’s Minister of state for education, Hon. Emeka Nwajiuba also weighed in his own opinion by suggesting that schools cannot realistically be opened because most schools do not have the capacity to obey the full protocols of CoVID-19. This further created more controversy as news of some Northern state administrators suggesting that the S.S.C.E for the year 2020 be canceled totally. Fortunately, that was not to happen as WAEC examinations resumed on August, 4th 2020.
Politics as Opposed to Education
A huge uproar was created on social media when the scheduled Edo state election primaries which was said to have been postponed indefinitely, was eventually scheduled to hold despite the large number of crowds that would be in attendance. This implies that the Edo state elections scheduled for September 19th, 2020 will still hold with political rallies in tow while schools will remain closed. Thousands of Nigerians condemned the decision and believed that the government cared more about political elections than the educational future of its citizens.
This made hundreds of students residing in the Federal Capital Territory to embark on a protest on 20th August 2020, demanding the reopening of schools closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The main aggrievement of the students based on the fact that despite the reopening of international borders and the obvious campaign activities in Edo state, the government has refused to reopen the schools. Other students on several social media platforms also displayed their dismay at the obvious negligence of the Federal Government on the plight of students, who are tired of staying at home. In all these, the government remains relatively unbothered as to what was happening and continued the lifting of lockdown restrictions while leaving school reopening decisions at the hands of stakeholders. This continued to bag the question from every student in the country as to what the government prioritizes more; Politics or Education?
The ASUU Influence on School Resumption in Nigeria
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) are the main decision-makers as far as school resumption is concerned. This is a factor of their readiness to be able to obey CoVID-19 protocols in every ramification. ASUU has continued to maintain that rushing to open schools will be a suicide mission and pleaded with students to understand and be patient. The ASUU President Biodun Ogunyemi said that schools will continue to remain closed for as long as it is safe for students in order to avoid further spread of the coronavirus. He maintained that even if schools are opened by the Federal Government, Tertiary institutions will remain closed until further notice.
Allegations on ASUU Decisions
There were allegations from several student quarters about ASUU’s stance on school resumption. The general accusation was that the decision will benefit ASUU in their ongoing strike against the government because of the issues with the IPPS system. Despite this, the general perception was that ASUU can only intervene and reopen schools whenever it suits them as most of their members have children outside the country. Nevertheless, the hullabaloo continues, as questions are asked as to just when the decision to reopen schools can be made.
As IT Stands
Waec examinations have finally started and are in progress currently but there are little or no indications as to when schools will finally be reopened and the plans to bridge the huge gap that students have to fill.
The Governor of Lagos state recently announced plans for the reopening of all schools in the state, although he agreed that the decision is not certain, but will follow the directions of the NCDC on the statistics of infections in the state. Whether other states will follow suit is yet to be known, but one thing is sure, students and indeed most parents are frustrated already as to when the whole debacle will end. A lot of parents have turned to home tutors for their wards and have tried to keep up the educational spirit in a time where the government has failed to step in and make a difference. As we enter into September, Information from all quarters is indicating that schools will be reopened soon, but as to whether that will be this year is yet to be known.
Thanks for reading as we remain hopeful for a favorable outcome.