WE stand firmly on the same page with the Federal Government that schools should not be reopened for now. Reopening schools at this juncture of the coronavirus pandemic is a romance with disaster.
After a recent meeting of the Federal Executive Council, the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, announced that it was suspending plans to reopen schools under its constitutional jurisdiction.
The Federal Government also asked states to join in the effort. The 19 Northern states have since signed up to it.
However, several states, notably Cross River, Ebonyi and states in the South West are pressing ahead with plans to reopen. In fact, the South West, working together under the Development Agenda for Western Nigerian, DAWN, has slated August 3, 2020 for reopening to enable transitional students sit for their West African Senior School Certificate Examinations, WASSCE.
Education is on the Concurrent List in our Constitution, which is why states and geopolitical zonal groups of states are at liberty to decide for themselves. In this advantage, we seeoutlines of a disaster.
If the country had been restructured as we have consistently advocated, it would be okay for the various states or regional groups to act according to their various educational paradigms and visions.
But the system we operate is a uniform one, not just within Nigeria, but also at the West African regional level. It would have helped if a decision on resumption and conduct of transitional exams had been agreed at that level.
The Nigerian academic calendar will be jarred if the WASSCE exams hold in some parts of the country and not in others. A system that moves all classes forward seamlessly will become disjointed when transitional students graduate to meet those stagnated in freshman university levels.
It will also develop a gap in the final year levels next session, unless a decision is taken to conduct mass promotions. Beyond pure academic considerations, reopening schools will add more fuel to the fire of the pandemic. So far, the lockdown protocols have largely shielded our children from getting infected. When they are let loose, they will become unwilling vectors, bringing the bug home and endanger elderly family members.
In every part of the world where religious activities and schools have been reopened, there has always been a rapid spike of infections.
In Ghana, President Akufo-Addo had ordered schools reopened on June 22, 2020. Within two weeks, 55 students of Accra Girls Senior High School alone tested positive to COVID-19.
We believe that COVID-19 has already damaged the year 2020 beyond repair. We should fight to survive the pandemic. Education has no expiry date. Let us adopt the Jack Ma principle and consider COVID-19 survival as more than enough victory.