Calls for strict compliance with COVID-19 protocols in schools
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to commemorate 2021 International World Education Day, with the theme, ‘Recover and Revitalize Education for the COVID-19 Generation’, ActionAid Nigeria, AAN, Tuesday, demanded upward review of budgetary allocation on education in Nigeria from 15 per cent to 20 per cent.
The organization also noted that directives for school reopening in October 2020, the Federal Ministry of Education, FME, the National Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, and other stakeholders developed the national School Reopening Guidelines and readiness template to ensure the safe reopening of schools.
It also expressed concern over the yet to be shown commitment of stakeholders in the education sector which was sought to ensure states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, meet up with the obligation of ensuring that every child resumes a safe learning environment as a result of partial or non-compliance to COVID-19 protocols.
Some of such commitments include the provision of handwashing points in strategic places within the school environment was not taken as many schools still lack potable or running water for handwashing even at a time when there is the sweeping second wave of the pandemic currently ravages the country; Social distancing, even up till now is being hampered by inadequate infrastructure and only very few schools enforce wearing of face mask in 2020.
It also raised the alarm that again schools directed to reopen 18th January 2021 amid rising cases and deaths across the nation are not complying with government directives following observations that indicates that only very few schools are fully complying while inadequate funding, poor infrastructure, lack of water supply and shortage of competent teachers amongst other factors remain key challenges which prevent schools from fully complying with the provisions for safe school reopening as this frustrates the achievement of universal education in the country.
The statement reads in part, “The demand was made by AAN in a statement issued to call the attention of government at all levels to ensure education receives adequate attention as an instrument and bedrock of development of any nation.
“It is upon this background that we join the rest of the world to commemorate this year’s International Education Day and call on the Federal Government to: Revise and increase allocation for education to 15 per cent- 20 per cent of public expenditure; Increase the tax base by capturing the informal sector to increase resources, working towards a minimum tax to GDP ratio of 20 per cent.
“Provide free quality education for all and halt the dangerous trends of privatization and commercialization of education; Ensure inclusive educational systems and institutions; Improve the quality of teaching through adequate recruitment, remuneration, and continued teacher training and re-training.
“Ensure evaluation of existing safety measures in schools to identify gaps and take corrective measures followed by regular risk assessment at the Federal, State, and LGA level; Provide leadership and funds to support logistics of monitoring teams at all levels, and enforce compliance to COVID-19 safety rules and measures; and “Braze up security architecture in places where insecurity has affected learning.”
The statement also pointed that, “With less than a decade to 2030, and in a world thrown into turmoil by COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial that the Federal Government takes concrete actions to recommit to honoring the UN commitments and mobilize all available resources to deliver on SDG4 thereby ensuring no child is left behind.”