I hope you’re not too surprised at the heading? For some time now, the trending game under the hashtag – #TheMATTER – has helped Nigerians relieve some of the ongoing tension in the country – but we will not be talking about that today. However, we will be taking #TheMatter to another level.
Recently, there have been reports that the federal government (and some state governments) is considering re-opening the schools for the academic session, which was on-going, to continue. Here, I will be treating this matter (which has raised a lot of questions and controversies) in detail; stating facts, and objective views which will no doubt broaden your horizon and open your eyes to the possibilities. Stay with me!
While speaking on the resumption of schools; the Secretary to the Federal Government, Boss Mustapha noted that the eased lockdown is meant to give some time for the churches, schools, companies and other institutions to re-strategize in order to be able to cope with the new guidelines necessary for the resumption of these activities.
However, speaking on the same issue, the Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, has stated that the Federal Government is working on plans to ensure the safe re-opening of schools, adding that the central government will never chance the lives of students all over the country in lieu to the recent rise in the number of Covid-19 cases in the country.
In addition, he revealed that they are thinking about “major, auxiliary and tertiary clump levels”, adding that a framework allowing students learn in a safe environment is being put in place. This framework; which will allow understudies to be sectioned into morning and afternoon sessions – while provisions are still being made for night/evening sessions – is being thought into.
Concluding the matter, the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, has confirmed that all schools will reopen on the 1st of June. In her statement, she added that there have been representations from public organisations who are ready to support the back to school plans. She continued by saying that provisions have been made for essential items like food and that schools will be cleaned before the pupils go back. She entreated parents to cooperate in ensuring that pupils with pre-existing medical conditions are also assisted.
Is it safe to say Nigeria is under pressure from the outside world? In recent times, Ivory Coast has also had cause to re-open schools for students. This country has ensured that hand hygiene is observed to the fullest, provided hand sanitizers for each pupil and even dedicated a whole day for proper orientation of both the pupils and teachers as regards safety precautions. In addition, advanced countries have adopted a concept known as contact-tracing, where an app tests people for the virus, tracks the speed of the virus, and trace the people an infected person has come in contact with.
Here, it is considered that most of the graduates rely on private schools for survival, as unemployment has forced them to employ as teachers in such schools in order to keep body and soul together. Due to the difficult times we are in, teachers have been forced to undergo voluntary sabbatical – during which the meagre salaries, which were insufficient, have now been stopped.
In another argument, children are also tired of the prolonged lockdown. Most of them now engage in social vices: they roam about the streets with nothing to do. Girls among them may be raped by randy men, leading to unwanted pregnancies and what-not. Both male and female pupils are more susceptible to the vices promoted through social media and other platforms: as they mostly do not have anything with which to engage their brains.
In one survey involving a parent, she reported that her kids were feeling sad, depressed and lonely while deprived of regular social contact with friends; and virtual visits and social media weren’t cutting it.
On the other hand, many parents are not very happy with the issue of this re-opening. Most of their complaints centre around the fact that Nigeria is not yet safe as regards the pandemic; stating that a second wave could be eminent in no time. Most of them also added that these so-called ministers have their various children out of the country and are actually less concerned about the welfare of the public, among others.
So there you have it, the pros and the cons. What do you think? Should the schools be re-opened? Should they not? The fact remains that power is in the hands of the people. If we, as one, decide that no one should go to school, no child will! The same principle applies vice- versa. Let me know in the comments below.