By Augustin Ike-
The Nigerian Government has said it is not convinced that schools should be reopened , despite the loss of attending classes following their closure due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba informed a meeting of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 with the Northern Traditional Leaders Committee (NTLC) on National Primary Health that opening schools was not advisable. Schools in four states including Lagos and Ogun State have already announced plans to re-open in just over a week, but government ministers in Nigeria are still reviewing that decision.
Headed by the Minister of Information and Culture on behalf of the Chairman of PTF and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, the meeting was to seek the support of the traditional rulers towards preventing community spread of COVID-19. Parents are mixed in their outlook of the present dilemma surrounding continuous school closures. Some are blindly cynical about the virus, and others are increasingly wary, depending on whom you talk to.
Nigerian pupils have struggled to keep abreast with their academics during the lockdown, giving the unequal access to digital technology families from different backgrounds face. Only students from well off homes can afford internet from home , and public internet cafes in many of the country’s cities, are often full, and subject to inconsistent access to electrical power. There is confusion among Nigerian’s youth as to when they will return to their studies. Many have given up spending time pursuing their academics at home, because of the uncertainty surrounding when schools will open.
Deaths connected to Covid-19 in Nigerian is low and still under 2,000, but there is fear among the government that it could spiral out of control if schools are allowed to open. The fact that covid-19 has claimed lives of former members of the government has been enough to really worry the Nigerian government.
Responding to a question from Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence Sa’ad Abubakar, on school reopening, Nwajiuba said the federal government is still evaluating the situation.
“At the moment, we have not come to the point where we can say we are convinced that schools can manage themselves and reopen comfortably.
“Our teams have gone out, and we will use the whole of this week and next week to do a proper evaluation.
“We are going round to see the level of compliance, but most importantly, we are waiting to get an update on all the facilities in every part of Nigeria.
“So, it is a work in progress,” he said.
The minister said the government strongly believes in the opinion of experts that 15 percent of transmission of the pandemic is from the school environment.