The Network for Democracy and Development (NDD), has warned that schools are still not safe for students and teachers to resume, due to poor preventive measures put in place to tackle coronavirus pandemic in the country.
NDD said it was unfortunate that the Presidential task force on COVID-19 announced Monday, 18 January as resumption date for schools when the country is experiencing an increase in the number of Coronavirus pandemic cases.
The group during a virtual press conference held on Sunday decried the plans by educational institutions across the country to resume academic activities without adequate safety measures to contain the devastating impacts of the second wave of COVID-19.
National Coordinator of NDD, Mr. Tajudeen Alabede while speaking, said it was discomforting that the federal government has not gone beyond merely issuing statements and encouraging schools to observe COVID-19 protocols.
He added that the federal and state governments have left the hapless students, pupils and staff, to their fate as adequate safety measures were not put in place by the government to contain the spread of the disease.
He noted that instead of a general resumption, there could have been a well-coordinated phased resumption in a way that would prevent overcrowding in the institutions.
Alabede said, “The consequences of poorly regulated resumption plans amidst the rising cases of COVID-19 may be catastrophic.
“Nigeria has witnessed a devastating impact of the second wave of COVID-19, including the death of some high-profile citizens in the past few weeks.
“NDD is, therefore, alarmed by the plans by educational institutions across the country to resume academic activities without adequate safety measures.
“NDD considers this inappropriate as the primary duty of any government is the security and wellbeing of the citizens”.”It is an irony that, while the plan for schools to resume is moving at a high speed, the same governments are vigorously campaigning against large gatherings. That this is taking place against the background of insecurity across the country makes it all the more indefensible.
‘What NDD expects is for the Government at all levels to regard COVID-19 as a national emergency which would demand that affected sectors are provided with all the necessary support that they need to cope with the impact of the pandemic”.
“In the minimum, the Government should consider providing facilities for virtual classes, deploying health and security personnel to schools to handle emergencies, providing hand sanitisers and masks to students and staff, providing testing facilities for compulsory testing of all students and staff and setting up isolation centres in all Local Governments. We commend the University of Ilorin and a few other institutions that have properly articulated their phased resumption plans.
“The education sector embraces the largest percentage of citizens – from kindergarten to postgraduate classes. It is a sector that is most affected by COVID-19 pandemic”.
He noted that for almost a year that the country has been battling with COVID-19, the nation is yet to take advantage of the pandemic and its attendant negative effects to radically overhaul the affected sectors, especially, education, health and agriculture, to bring them in compliance with the new realities.
“Almost one year after the index case of COVID-19 was recorded in Nigeria, we seem not to have learnt many lessons. The nation is yet to take advantage of the pandemic and its attendant negative effects to radically overhaul the affected sectors, especially, education, health and agriculture.