ASUU to govt: Don’t reopen schools until they’re safe,

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Biodun Ogunyemi, ASUU President (Photo: Channels TV)
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The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has registered its support for the decision of the Federal Government not to reopen schools yet and its withdrawal of participation in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) due to safety concerns.

The exam which involves students in Senior Secondary School 3 is rescheduled to commence on 4th August even as there are indications that this might shift once again.

Last Monday, the Federal Ministry of Education issued guidelines for safe reopening of schools and announced on Friday that it had given school owners within two weeks to meet up with that.

ASUU National President, Biodun Ogunyemi said in an interview with Punch Newspaper that the union was more concerned about safety than how soon schools resume.

He cited the example of Kenya where schools have been told to resume in 2021 as an instance.

Ogunyemi said, “Look, Kenya has said they have closed all their schools till next year (2021); they too have exams to write. Safety first. If it means closing the schools until next year to safeguard the lives of Nigerian children and safeguard the health of all Nigerians, so be it.

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“So, if that will help us to address cases that can lead to increase in mortality, I think Nigerians should go that way and all of us should see reason for it. If they need to cancel admission for the year, it is good for them. Life matters first, people must have life first before they can go to university. Are the universities ready to work now?

“Our position is that they should not experiment with the lives of our children. Nobody can tell; the situation may soon normalise and they can do their exams and there is another opportunity for external candidates around November. So, it’s not as if the door is totally closed.”

The ASUU president added that the union had not seen any evidence to show that schools were secured for students to go back.

He said, “The first thing that should be tackled is whether schools are safe. And if the schools are not safe, why do you want to carry out an experiment with the lives of our children? An attempt to send back the children to school at a time there is a spike in COVID-19 cases in Nigeria is like experimenting with the lives of our children.

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“If they put all the things in place, including social and physical distancing, sanitisers, kitting the children as we see in other places, decontamination with water flowing in the schools and all the gadgets, why not? So, if government can meet all these conditions, then they can reopen the schools. But if they cannot meet all these conditions, they should not experiment with even 10 students in any school.”

EduCeleb.com earlier reported the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS) saying that its members were ready for school reopening and that as part of measures to curtail the spread of COVID-19, it has directed its members to open schools for about four hours daily.

NAPPS president, Yomi Otubela disclosed that the association’s members have started purchasing various equipment to maintain safety while promising a limited time of opening.

He also commended the Nigerian government for including private schools among the beneficiaries of the COVID-19 intervention funds it instituted for private businesses.

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