…Say Government Has Not Made Adequate Safeguards for the Lives of Teachers, Students …Schools Don’t Have Financial Capacity to Comply with Health Protocol The Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Osun State chapter and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), have chided the Federal Government’s move to reopen schools to students in the final exam
…Say Government Has Not Made Adequate Safeguards for the Lives of Teachers, Students
…Schools Don’t Have Financial Capacity to Comply with Health Protocol
The Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Osun State chapter and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), have chided the Federal Government’s move to reopen schools to students in the final exam class, saying the decision will pose more danger to the lives of both teachers and students. They also argue that the schools do not have the financial capacity to comply with the protocol of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
Speaking in Oshogbo, Osun state capital, NUT State Secretary, Mr Salami Olukayode argued that since the world is yet to discover a cure for the virus, it is not safe to reopen schools.
The Federal Government through the COVID-19 Presidential Task Force (PTF) led by Mr Boss Mustapha on Monday directed that graduating students of Primary 6, JSS 3 and SSS 3 should return to schools to take their final exams.
But Olukayode insisted that efforts of the government for now, is not enough to guarantee safety of the lives of teachers and students.
“Saying some section of students should return to school is like trying to test run how far the government has gone on the fight against COVID-19,” he said.
He however, urged government at all levels to double their efforts in containing the virus, adding that examination can be done any time when the country is free of COVID-19.
“Our teachers are ready to resume back to work but preventive measures against COVID-19 to protect their lives must be considered first”, he said.
According to Olukayode, there is already the negative effect of COVID-19 on the country’s education sector since the closure of schools “but only the living can serve God”.
“As schools are being closed in Nigeria, so they are also closed all over the world. While we are speaking about adult students, they know how to protect themselves but little we can say about children, especially when they are out of coverage between their homes and school”.
He however, commended Governor Gboyega Oyetola for his administration’s relentless efforts to curtail the spread of COVID-19 and his prompt payment of salary to teachers in the state.
He also lauded the ongoing electronic learning initiative, which is sponsored by the state government to engage students in continuous learning during the period of the closure.
Also arguing in the same vein, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Monday urged the Federal Government of Nigeria to think conscientiously before reopening schools in the country.
Speaking with reporters in Ota, Ogun state, ASUU President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, said that the Federal Government needed to address the challenges of the education sector before it can talk of reopening schools.
Ogunyemi charged the Federal Government to provide the ideal environment and should take the lead by meeting the conditions spelt out by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) before reopening schools.
“The Federal Government must lead and show the way by meeting the conditions for reopening of schools before any school can be allowed to open, because COVID-19 pandemic is a health challenge.
“When it comes to public health, it is something that should not be left in the hands of the individual, but the Federal Government must take the lead,’’ he said.
The ASUU president listed the conditions spelt out by NCDC to include: provision of materials for regular washing of hands, face mask, isolations centres, space for social distancing and hands sanitiser.
Ogunyemi said that many of the schools don’t have financial capacities to meet those conditions and requirements for reopening of schools.
“It is suicidal to reopen schools now if the Federal Government itself could not meet the conditions spelt out by NCDC and World Health Organisation (WHO).
“The nation will expose the innocent children to risks which are avoidable,” he said.
He appealed to the Federal Government to provide the running funds for the principals and head teachers so that they could provide some of these facilities in their schools.
The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 announced re-opening of schools to allow students in graduating classes resume in-person in preparation for examinations and reopening of domestic aviation services as soon as practicable. It also announced resumption of movement across State borders only outside curfew hours with effect from July 1st, 2020.
Chairman of the PTF and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Mustapha made the announcement on Monday during his press briefing.
The statement reads; “Within the Month under review, the PTF continued to monitor developments and consistently admonished Nigerians to change their behaviour in view of the fact that the spread of the virus had entered the community phase. It is the considered opinion of the PTF that Nigerians, though aware of the existence of the virus, have generally misunderstood the objectives behind the reasoning of government in gradually relaxing the restrictions.
“As we are all aware, the PTF in conjunction with sub-national entities, the organized private sector, put in places a number of measures. The PTF also escalated its activities around risk communication to Nigerians but we have observed with growing concern the non-compliances with these measures designed to prevent transmission and protect vulnerable segments of the population.
“We hold the strong view that if such actions do not abate, experiences of resurgence of the virus from other jurisdictions including China, the United States of America, Brazil and across Europe may emerge in Nigeria and we run the risk of erasing the gains made in the last three months.
“By way of a reminder, there is presently no known vaccine for the virus and that all over the world non-pharmaceutical measures still remain the most effective fighting opportunity we have for overcoming this pandemic.
“To further strengthen our National Response, the PTF in the intervening period vigorously built partnerships locally and internationally. Similarly, we fully have decentralised the National Response with State Governments and communities taking ownership and more responsibility. These efforts have greatly improved our ability to maximally detect, trace, isolate and treat nationwide successfully.
“The PTF has also continued to pursue the strategic thrust of “telling (communicate), tracing (identify) and treating (manage)” cases, with a stronger focus on precision interventions in high burdened LGAs within identified states of the Federation. This precision intervention will be signposted by:
“Aggressive scaling up of efforts to ensure effective community protection and sensitisation; and Increased provision of support and guidance to states in their response to the outbreak.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the focus on the important roles to be played by the States is underscored by the following considerations:
The Community Phase
“The spread has entered the community phase which only States and LGAs should drive;
“The inaction of a particular State could endanger its neighbours and compromise the entirety of the response;
“States will be encouraged to make considerable efforts to ensure a push for compliance within the guidelines issued by the PTF;
“States must also take greater care in leading on public health measures in the LGAs under their jurisdiction, by working on surveillance, case finding, testing, isolation, tracing and quarantining contacts; and
“FG will predicate its resource deployment to States on the level of compliance and the extent of collaboration received on this public health emergency.
“Notwithstanding the challenges faced in the last one month and the fact that Nigeria’s statistics have been on the rise, substantial progress has been made in the following areas:
“Harnessing of data, which shows that 60% of the confirmed cases are in a handful of local governments in the country (18 out of 774 LGAs nationwide), and putting in place targeted interventions;
“Increased capacity to detect, test and trace those infected with the virus,
through the activation of 38 molecular testing laboratories, resulting in raising the test count nationwide in excess of 130,000;
A shift in focus to a targeted community-based approach, enhanced risk communication;
Increased collaboration with the legislature, State Governments and the organised private sector;
Activation of a new, cost-effective policy on the evacuation of returning Nigerians;
Increased awareness of COVID-19 among the population;
Cushioning the socio-economic impact of the restrictions through the provision of palliatives to vulnerable members of various communities nationwide; and
Successful re-opening sectors of the economy despite initial challenges in areas such as the banking sector, industry and agriculture.
“Today, the PTF submitted its 5th Interim Report to Mr. President for his consideration. In the Report the PTF specifically reviewed the issues around the general level of compliance with prescribed measures, while taking note of the following:
Implications of the lack of general compliance with measures;
the global and domestic developments especially in the area of rising statistics; and
the continued restrictions in the education and transportation sectors as well as for activities that attract mass gatherings such as operations of markets, worship centres and entertainment.
Striking Delicate Balance
“In doing the foregoing, the PTF considered the need for the continuation of the policy of striking the delicate balance between lives and livelihood as well as inputs received from different stakeholder groups.
“The PTF similarly identified the underlisted areas of concern that would require attention under the on-going restrictions:
Educational services/sector; and
Public and Private Sector offices.
“You will recall that the PTF had in previous briefing stated that the aim of Phase Two was to sustain the gains from earlier steps taken for pandemic control and to enable additional sectors of the economy restart activities. Given the challenges and the visible danger ahead occasioned by skepticism, poor public perception both leading to lack of compliance, it has come to the inevitable conclusion that the extension of phase two of the eased lockdown will be needed to:
consolidate the gains in the areas of the economy that have restarted,
ensure better compliance with the health-based response;
support the states in enforcing guidelines and protocols as well as strengthening the LGAs build community level structures for ownership and effective risk communication; and
help to better achieve the balance between saving lives and ensuring that wellbeing and livelihood of citizens are protected.
“I am pleased to inform you that Mr. President has carefully considered the 5th Interim Report of the PTF and has accordingly approved that, with the exception of some modifications to be expatiated upon later, the Phase Two of the eased lockdown be extended by another four weeks with effect from Tuesday, June 30, 2020 through Midnight of Monday, 27 July, 2020.
“Specifically, however, the following measures shall either remain in place or come into effect:
Maintaining the current phase of the national response, for another four weeks in line with modifications to be expatiated by the National Coordinator;
Lifting Cross Border movement
Permission of movement across State borders only outside curfew hours with effect from 1st July, 2020;
Enforcement of laws around non-pharmaceutical interventions by States, in particular, the use of face masks in public places;
Safe re-opening of schools to allow students in graduating classes resume in-person in preparation for examinations;
Safe reopening of domestic aviation services as soon as practicable;
Publication of revised guidelines around the three thematic areas of general movement, industry and labour; and community activities;
Provision of technical support for states to mobilise additional resources for the response;
Strengthening partnerships with States, Local Governments, traditional rulers, community/religious leaders and civil society to ensure increased public awareness and compliance with preventive guidelines;
Encouraging State governments to empower Local Government Authorities to intensify contact tracing efforts and ensure stronger grassroots mobilisation to support the response;
Encourage States and Hospital authorities to ensure continuity of other health services to prevent fatalities from other life-threatening conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic; and
Deepening of collaboration with other mandate groups at States/Federal levels to harmonise the country’s COVID-19 response in the short, medium and long terms.
“The National Coordinator will in due course announce and publish the details of the revised guidelines while relevant MDAs including Education, Transportation and Aviation will respectively consult further with stakeholders and issue guidelines for their sectors,” he said.