… As UNICEF, FME, NCDC, UBEC map out reopening templates
BY ADEYEMI AKANJI, BAUCHI – Following the easing of COVID-19 pandemic, efforts are in top gear to bring life back to normal as schools across the country are getting set for reopening to allow for continuation of academic activities from where it was abruptly stopped at the outbreak of the pandemic in March this year.
This is as the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Education announced that there would be no reopening of schools if all COVID-19 preventive measures are not put in place.
Preparatory to the reopening which is expected to be in phases and in full compliance with the preventive protocol put in place by the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) and other health administrators, the United Nations Children Fund, (UNICEF) Bauchi Field Office in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Education, NCDC as well as the Universal Basic Education Commission, (UBEC) have developed a template that is expected to be adhered to for the reopening of schools.
The measure is part of efforts towards ensuring that safety measures put in place by the NCDC in its guidelines for the reopening of schools are properly fixed.
This was announced by the Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba at a stakeholders’ meeting in Bauchi, during which he said that the closure of schools was part of government’s strategy to curtail the spread of the virus as the school environment were considered to be veritable grounds for the spread of the virus.
Represented by a Director in the Federal Ministry of Education, Mr Asanbe O.F, Nwajiuba said that the Ministry considered it expedient to hold a stakeholders Dialogue on safe school readiness, taking place simultaneously in the six geographical zones across the country.
He added that the readiness template requires the full engagement of all stakeholders which is considered for successful implementation.
According to him; “The Closure and the ease down period, particularly as regards the closure of schools, have lasted for seven months. Generally, through the concerted efforts of governments at all levels, there is a cautious belief and understanding that the pandemic curve has started flattening. This news provides the impetus for a positive hope that things are getting better. Regrettably, learners have lost a lot of grounds as far as education is concerned.
“It is on this premise that we are all here to deliberate and adopt the template for the safe re-opening of schools and learning facilities.The template has some key roles and shared responsibilities to be played by the stakeholders at National, State, local government and at the school levels”
In his remarks, the UNICEF Chief of Field Office, Bauchi, Mr Bhanu Pathak, said that millions of school children and staff at all levels are currently staying at home, adding that not only are they missing out on education which is a fundamental human right, children are exposed to more risk of education setbacks such as examination failure and have been uprooted from their schools where they have been taught and sensitized on COVID-19 prevention since the closure of schools across the 36 states as a result of COVID 19 pandemic.
Pathak also said that Stakeholders from the Education sector, other line Ministries, media and development partners in the states were involved in the process, adding that the response plans were developed considering during and after outbreak scenarios.
Participants for the meeting were made up of Commissioners of Education, Chairmen of SUBEB, NUT and other school health related agencies from Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe states with the Federal Ministry of Education as the supervisor of the programme.