When will schools resume is a question that has been on the lips of many students and parents across Nigeria due to the lockdown.
There has been a fervent agitation among Nigerian students concerning when schools will resume in the country following the Covid-19 induced vacation which has “led to the largest disruption of education ever”, as noted by António Guterres. On the 26th of March 2020, the Federal Government of Nigeria had shut down academic activities in the country “as a proactive step aimed at preventing the spread of the dreaded Coronavirus”. In harmony, more than 180 countries had equally shut down face-to-face academic activities in their educational institutions.
Irrespective of the effective safety measures taken by several countries, the Coronavirus has never ceased its global surge. As of 27 August 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) Covid-19 database has captured 23, 980, 044 confirmed cases of infected humans and 820, 763 related deaths. The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on its part has confirmed 53, 021 cases and 1, 010 deaths. WHO Director-general had disclosed in his opening remarks, at the Covid-19 media briefing on 24 August 2020, that “a number of vaccines are now in the final stage of clinical trials”. This is likely the only hope of mankind presently.
In the absence of a vaccine however, reopening of social activities has begun in several countries, and schools aren’t left out. More than 20 countries have reopened schools, while some countries, including Taiwan, Nicaragua, and Sweden, never closed their schools in the first place. This is consequent to the better understanding of the novel virus and its controlled transmission in those countries.
Nigeria has equally begun its reopening process. This is witnessed in the recent reopening of prayer houses, markets and a proposed resumption of international flights. However, schools are yet to be included in the spree. This has raised eyebrows in several quarters, and the query, “when will schools resume in Nigeria”, continues to grow as the days go by.
A 3-seconds video that recently went viral on social media seems to have shown the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, saying that all schools in Nigeria will resume on 7 September 2020. However, Africa Check has discredited the video as “old, and doctored”. So, when will schools resume in Nigeria?
In this article, we will explore the opinions of related stakeholders in order to determine when schools will resume in Nigeria. Our chemistry will include:
- The opinion of Nigerian students;
- The opinion of the Federal Government of Nigeria;
- The opinion of lecturing bodies;
- The opinion of the World Health Organization (WHO).
1. The Opinion of Nigerian Students
The Guardian reported on 21 August 2020 that “The Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN), Lagos State Area Unit, has called on the federal and state governments to see to the possibility of the full reopening of schools in the country”. Previously, students under the aegis of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) had protested in Abuja on 19 August 2020, asking the federal government to reopen schools for face-to-face classroom learning. They argued that if the government could reopen markets, prayer houses and the airports, there is no reason to delay schools resumption until farther.
2. The Opinion of the Federal Government of Nigeria
In reaction to NANS protest, the Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, disclosed, during the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Covid-19, on 24 August 2020 that the federal government is collaborating with stakeholders on the prospect of schools resumption. He also disclosed that Nigerian universities are almost ready to welcome students back to school.
3. The Opinion of Lecturing Bodies
Meanwhile, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has tasked the government to put in place safety measures before reopening schools. The union, which had embarked on a nation-wide strike on 23 March 2020 over the government’s Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) innovation, also threatened that its strike action will last beyond schools resumption in the country if the government fails to address its grievances.
Nevertheless, Congress of University Academics (CONUA), a breakaway faction of ASUU, has thrown its support behind the calls for school resumption in Nigeria. It has equally informed the federal government of the readiness of its members to resume duty whenever schools resume. CONUA disclosed this in a press statement signed by its National Coordinator, Niyi Sunmonu, after its National Executive Council Meeting held in Abuja on 26 August 2020.
4. The Opinion of the World Health Organization (WHO)
The WHO believes that the prolonged closure of schools is harming students in other ways. The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, has argued that, “We must not be blind-sided by our efforts to contain Covid-19 and end up with a lost generation. Just as countries are opening businesses safely, we can reopen schools. This decision must be guided by a thorough risk analysis to ensure the safety of children, teachers and parents and with key measures like physical distancing put in place”.
On 20 August 2020, WHO-Africa disclosed that a WHO survey of 39 countries in sub-Saharan Africa found that schools are fully open in only 6 countries; closed in 14 countries; and partially open (exam classes) in 19 others. Around a dozen countries are planning to resume schools in September, which is the start of the academic year in some countries.
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Judging from the various opinions explored above, Nigeria is probably among the sub-Saharan African countries planning to resume schools in September, but there are some pertinent questions that should be addressed. Do Nigerian schools have sufficient capacity for social distance learning?
Is healthcare easily accessible for students? How would vulnerable students fare?
What is your own opinion: do you agree that schools should resume in Nigeria already?
Left to you, when will schools resume in Nigeria?