As schools open after months of lockdown following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Nigeria Academy of Education (NAE), has advised government to release adequate funds directly to schools to provide the needed care for students. The academy gave the advice in a statement jointly signed by its President, Elizabeth Eke, and Publicity Secretary, Owoicho Akpa, a copy of which was made available to newsmen on Sunday in Abuja. The institution also advised that the training of teachers and improvement of the learning environment should precede the resumption of classes.
The leadership of the academy appealed for public-private arrangements toward raising funds for the schools, stressing that supplementary school feeding was needed at the time of examinations.
According to the academy, COVID-19 has ushered in a new normal for all and there is need for adaptation of fresh mentality for both private and public schools to cope. It noted that since all the examinations would be taken in the next four months, the total number of students moving around and involved in different examinations would be huge and must be properly catered for.
“Parents have the final responsibility to decide whether their children return to school or not, although with all the examinations scheduled, the temptation to follow the tide may be very strong. “Those who decide to send their children should not be deterred from doing so over lack of funds. They should be enabled to follow through with their decision. “School authorities and managements should ensure that the guidelines are followed. “Orientation for teachers and students, no matter how brief, is essential. Students and teachers are expected to be tested.
“The schools should be fumigated, social distancing must be observed, especially in the examination arrangements, masks should be made available, with sanitisers, running water and soap provided. “For schools without pipe borne water in the rural areas, tanks ought to be provided. Verification checks and continuous monitoring are necessary, both through self-assessment and with external inspectors. “Schools in areas that are physically insecure, should be provided with armed security.”
The academy disclosed that it would host three webinars from August, to discuss comprehensive strategies for dealing with short and long term effects of the Coronavirus. The academy appreciated government’s decision which saved the country the embarrassment of an open fractionalisation of the Nigerian front as some states exercised their concurrency rights in education and decided to send in their students for the WAEC examinations. “Opinions are sharply divided as to whether or not the resumption should take place.
“As on the global scene, arguments hinged on balancing the health implications arising from the continuously spreading Covid-19 pandemic, especially in the face of inadequate response strategies and shortcomings in testing, against the need to make progress in education and reopen the economy. “The fear is that the resumption may exacerbate the situation and lead to higher casualty. “Some have even expressed fears about the heightened level of insecurity, the inadequacy of preparation for the examinations and shared concerns about mass failure with attendant consequences.
“We, in the NAE, do not wish away the profound arguments, but we have the professional responsibility to accept the resumption and advise on how best to circumvent a worsening situation. “As a people, we must also ensure that this decision turns out to be beneficial to Nigeria and does not lead to regrets. “We note that schools’ resumption in other climes, like the United States, worsened the spread of the virus. Out of those experiences, precautionary measures have been learnt.”