As parts of efforts aimed at ensuring that safety protocols for schools reopening are adhered to strictly, the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has collaborated with the Federal Ministry of Education, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDCl and Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) to develop a school reopening template.
Schools in the country were shut down by governments at all level due to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic which ravaged the entire world, leading to the lockdown of socioeconomic activities across the world.
With the flattening of the pandemic curve in the country, schools have begun preparations for reopening even as some state governments have already ordered those in their domains to be opened for academic activities.
Delivering a keynote address at the zonal stakeholders’ dialogue on readiness for schools reopening, held in Bauchi, the Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, stated that the closure of schools was part of government’s strategies to curtail the spread of COVID-19.
According to the minister, school environments were considered to be veritable grounds for the spread of the dreaded virus.
Represented by a director in the Federal Ministry of Education, Mr Asanbe O.F, the minister said it is imperative to hold the stakeholders’ dialogue on school readiness for the resumption of teaching and learning across the country.
He informed that the stakeholder’s dialogue is being held simultaneously in the six geographical zones across the country, adding that the readiness template requires the full engagement of all critical stakeholders.
“Generally, through the concerted efforts of government at all levels, there is a cautious belief and understanding that the pandemic curve has started flattening,” the Minister of State said.
While saying that the flattening of the curve of the pandemic in the country gives a positive hope, Nwajiuba lamented that students have lost a lot of grounds due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This news provides the impetus for 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 reopening 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,” he said.
In his goodwill message at the stakeholders dialogue, the UNICEF Chief of Field Office, Bauchi, Mr Bhanu Pathak, lamented that since the closure of schools across the country, millions of school children and their teachers at all levels were currently staying at home.
According to the UNICEF chief, not only are the pupils missing out on education, which he described as a fundamental human right, but also are being exposed to more risk of education setbacks such as examination failure.
Pathak added that school children have been uprooted from their schools where they have been taught and sensitized on COVID-19 prevention protocols.
He said that with the flattening of the pandemic curve, there is the need to plan for schools resumption to conform with NCDC laid down guidelines.
“As the curve of the pandemic begins to flatten, there is the need to make plans for the reopening of schools and ensure that safety preventive measures are put in place as laid down by the NCDC guidelines for the reopening of schools.
“This resulted in our gathering today to share the school reopening readiness template with stakeholders for further review during which all stakeholders will look at the template and make an objective contribution to ensuring inclusiveness of all concerned,” Pathak said.