The Federal Government and Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) on Monday agreed on the September 22 resumption date for all public and private schools across the country.
In accordance with the amicable resolution of the crisis, all public and private schools across the country are to resume the 2014/2015 academic session on Monday, September 22, 2014.
At the meeting held at the instance of the House Committee on Education, Ibrahim Shekarau, minister of education and Kayode Obembe, the NMA president, in different presentations affirmed that the environment is safe for the schools to resume, contrary to media reports credited to the NMA.
Meanwhile, Aminu Suleiman, chairman, House Committee on Education, raised alarm over hike in tuition fee in some private schools for procurement of sanitizer.
Suleiman and other members of the committee expressed concerns over the conflicting views between the Federal Government and professional bodies including NMA and Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) as well as inadequate infrastructure especially water in public primary and secondary schools nationwide.
Speaking on the efforts made so far, Shekarau who described NMA’s opposing view as “uncivilised and over-trivialised”, explained that the new date was announced after satisfactory consultation with state commissioners of education, All Nigerian Confederation of Principals of Secondary Schools (ANCOPSS) and officials of Federal Ministry of Health.
He noted that Bauchi State has released several millions of naira as part of efforts to prevent the outbreak of EVD, while many state governments have improved water and sanitation.
He maintained that the state governments have the sole responsibility of “putting the preventive machinery in place” as well as determining the number of weeks for the school calendar based on the minimum and maximum standard set by Federal Government.
In his presentation, Kayode Obembe who concurred with the new resumption date, however, faulted government for failing to consult with the association before announcing the new resumption date.
The NMA helmsman, who lauded efforts of various stakeholders in checking the scourge of EVD and safeguarding the victims, however, called for proactive actions towards improving the health system.
He said, “In order to keep our country free from any other entry/importation of this disease, we must maintain informed, educated and reasonably eternal vigilance over the matter and avoid all behaviours based on rumours and lies or other acts of ignorance or wickedness.
“In this regard, all Nigerians must be warned against all rumours and that they must never spread nor act on any information about any of the haemorrhagic disease (or any disease for that matter) without due verification from a properly and professionally educated person and who has been authorised to speak on the subject matter by the federal or state governments or a competent professional body as the NMA.
“In regard of the issue of school resumption for the first term of the 2014/2015 academic year this September, it is important that in order not to feed into the unhealthy fear monster in the country, schools should resume but efforts should be geared towards putting the following in place…”
These include screening of all entrants into the country for fever as well as from countries of entry or recent travellers before coming to Nigeria.
“All recent travellers to all the provinces of the current endemic countries of the Ebola disease, namely Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Sudan and Gabon, must be carefully scrutinised for the presence of the virus and epidemiologically treated accordingly.”
He also called on all the state governments to resuscitate their infectious disease hospitals at the state headquarter towns and update them to be able to take care of any viral haemorrhagic fever and other medical infectious disease emergencies.