Resumption: Nigerian Academy of Education wants funds release directly to schools for COVID-19 protocols

The Nigerian Academy of Education (NAE) has called on Government to release adequate funds directly to the schools to cut off ‘middlemen’s taxes’, to enable them prepare for and sustain the care of the students who are preparing for exit examinations in the COVID-19 era.

NAE also appealed for public-Private arrangements to help with direct donations to schools, stressing that supplementary school feeding is needed at the time of examinations.

The Academy in a statement jointly signed by its President, Elizabeth Eke and Publicity Secretary, Owoicho Akpa made available to journalists in Abuja, advised that in the interim, the other measures on training of teachers and improvement of learning environments should take place before any other classes join.

According to the statement, COVID-19 has ushered in a new normal for all and there is need for adaptation of mentality to be able to cope for both private and public schools, their proprietors and stakeholders.

It said since all the examinations will be taken in the next four months, the total number of the children moving around and involved in different examinations will be huge and they must be properly cared for.

“On this occasion, 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 for lack of funds to rather they should be enabled to follow through with their decision.

“The school authorities and management 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 school  as a whole should be sanitised (fumigated), social distancing observed especially in the examination arrangements, masks made available, sanitisers, running water and soap provided.

“For those 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.

“NAE is hosting 3 webinars from August to discuss comprehensive strategies for dealing with short and long term effects of the coronavirus”, it read.

NAE appreciated the Federal Ministry of Education decision which has 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.

It observed that:”opinions are sharply divided as to whether or not the resumption should take place. As on the global scene, arguments hinge 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 e.g. many states in the United States, worsened the spread of the virus. Out of those experiences, precautionary measures have been learnt.

“The FME has very detailed, well thought out and relevant guidelines. The dissemination of the contents and preparedness to follow them, however, cannot be guaranteed. Judging from government inability to enforce the general NCDC endorsed guidelines and many Nigerians’ tendency towards indiscipline and levity in obeying directives at this time, the guidelines may not be observed. Resumption of schools must be seen as a very grave responsibility by all”.

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