By Adesina Wahab
Some stakeholders in the education sector have condemned the policy somersault by the Federal Government on when schools in the country will reopen and when final year students in Senior secondary schools will write their terminal examinations.
The stakeholders, who spoke with Vanguard on Thursday, said such a development shows a lack of synergy in government and in the formulation and execution of policies.
They included the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools, NAPPS, and the National Association of Private School Teachers, NAPST.
They reacted to the statement by the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, who on Wednesday nullified an earlier statement made by the junior minister in the ministry, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, who said on Monday that pupils and students in final year classes in primary and secondary schools would resume on August 4 preparatory to writing their final papers.
The National President of NAPPS, Chief Yomi Otubela, described the development as shocking.
“It is shocking because on Monday the Minister of State announced to the whole world that final year students can resume next month to be able to sit for their terminal papers. After that, he met with stakeholders including WAEC, NECO, NABTEB among others on the development. During the meeting, Nwajiuba even told the examination bodies to harmonise their timetables.
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“The popular opinion at the meeting was that those set of students be allowed to resume and sit for their exams. To now say no to such a suggestion is very unfortunate. We are still studying the statement by Minister Adamu and we will react appropriately. One thing is certain, we cannot continue to toy with the future of our children. No one is saying health and safety are not important, but with the arrangement made as shown by schools that have resumed in Oyo State, I think there is no cause for alarm,” he said.
The National President of ASUU, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, said what the development showed that the leadership of the ministry did not do enough homework and did not coordinate well.
He, however, supported the decision by Adamu that schools should remain locked.
“The conflicting policy statements show a lack of synergy between the two ministers. The time is not yet auspicious for reopening schools. We asked them the data they had, they were not forthcoming. What the government did before some airports were opened have not been done. Schools have not been decontaminated. The pandemic is not peculiar to Nigeria. A few days ago, Kenya said it would cancel a whole session.
“Children can be carriers of the virus and they are coming from different homes. I don’t think or believe that children should be used for experiments. How many schools have running water even in our universities? Facilities to prevent the spread of the disease are not yet in place,” he opined.
However, the National President of NAPST, Mr. Akhigbe Olumhense, lambasted the government for the policy somersault.
According to him, the major fear of the government is about public schools that it has failed to make up to standard.
“They cannot continue to dodge the issue. They should put in place the necessary facilities in public schools. I can say it boldly that most private schools are ready and would meet the required standards. They are only derelict in the discharge of their duties. During the lockdown, what were they doing?
“In Europe where schools have reopened, there has been no spike in the number of cases. Unfortunately, in Nigeria, there is no support for private schools. In some other climes, palliatives and support are given to teachers in private schools and the owners.
“If they want to shut down the schools indefinitely, let them put private school teachers on a sort of financial support. Even if it is N30,000 they can give each teacher monthly, it would go a long way in ameliorating their conditions,” he said.
Recall that on Monday, Nwajiuba said schools would reopen on August 4 for final year students to prepare for their terminal examinations.
On Tuesday, the West African Examinations Council, WAEC, rolled out its timetable for this year’s West African Senior Secondary School Examination scheduled to begin from August 3.
With the pronouncement by Adamu, everything is now on hold.