Amid the pandemic, a Nigerian professor has warned the FG of the risk of reopening schools.
President Muhammadu Buhari
A Professor of Educational Management, Sidikat Ijaiya, has asked the federal government to ensure that proper assessment was done before schools are permitted to reopen.
Ijaijya on Wednesday warned that such assessment should be completed ahead resumption of students to avoid widespread coronavirus infections.
The former Deputy Vice-Chancellor – Academics, University of Ilorin, told newsmen in the Kwara State capital, that in spite of fear, something has to be done for schools to resume.
She observed that private schools online lessons were working for parents and students in urban areas, while the rural dweller are left out
“In any case, online lessons cannot take the place of face-to-face teaching in the education of young citizens, so, it is inevitable,” NAN quoted her as saying.
She urged all Nigerians to “speak up on the side of education, especially to assist the government on possible strategies to adopt in the reopening of schools without an upsurge in the spread of the pandemic”.
The don said the challenges of Nigerian are worrisome already without the COVID-19 pandemic.
She highlighted them as overcrowded classrooms, poor sitting arrangement, stuffy classrooms, poor infrastructure, poor hygiene, shortage of classrooms and teachers.
“There are classes with 50 to 150 students, especially in big towns and cities. Pupils are sitting on mats and bare floors in some schools. How do we manage that in the face of the pandemic,” she said.
On the Presidential Task Force (PTF) position on reopening, Ijaiya said “even though there is no date yet and the trend of the new spread does not look favourable, now is the time for Nigerians to speak up because it affects all of us.”
The Professor advised the federal government to consider staggered/gradual approach, as suggested by the PTF, starting with SS3 students due for public examinations.
She said this help to determine whether there is a need for staggered classes, as per morning and afternoon shifts.
Ijaiya suggested that towards that end of the exam, all schools, “including the tertiary ones, can be mandated to prepare a draft of how they would manage social distancing and other aspects to prevent any spread of the pandemic”.
She said that before resumption, teachers should receive thorough orientation on COVID-19 to allay their fears and to take precaution seriously as well as for information on what to do if they suspect a case.
Ijaiya stated that the first few days of resumption of students should be spent on the same orientation and that there should be no assumption that the students know all about COVID-19.
“In addition, schools will need some palliatives, not just food: more good teachers, classrooms, chairs and desks, sanitisers, soap, regular water supply, facemasks, wash hand bowls, towels, clean toilets, etc”, she said.