The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has called on the federal government to reconsider its decision in reopening schools in the country amidst spike of Covid-19 in the country.
The Federal Government, through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and PTF Chairman, Boss Mustapha, announced the reopening of schools for students in primary six, Junior Secondary Schools (JSS 3) and Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) as those to return to the classrooms.
Going against the plan, ASUU President, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, who spoke in Sunrise Daily programme on Channels Television Wednesday said, it is unwise to such decision amid the spread of COVID -19 pandemic.
He said the Federal Government had not put in place safety measures for the pupils.
He stated that government should first tell Nigerians who would provide the conditions for the reopening of schools.
He said: “We are not against reopening of schools but government must not just spell out conditions. Government must tell us who will meet those conditions. And even in private schools, government cannot just leave everything to the proprietors because we are talking of public health issues here.
“Many of these private schools are just struggling to break even.
“When you talk of public health issues, they are not issues that will be left in the hands of individuals who can follow through according to their capacity.
“There must be basic minimum in order to ensure and guarantee that we are all safe. It is about our collective safety and the safety of our children.
”We are not seeing any concrete steps being taken about meeting their own (Federal Government) conditions. The timing is there but if they (government) say they are convinced, we hold them to that.
“We have seen other places where they are opening schools and we have also seen other places where they are even delaying opening schools till August and September.
“Here, if government has come out to say they are convinced that we can manage the situation but we are warning against the situation where they (government) will just leave us to what we call health immunity in which case the students will be exposed.
“Nigeria should not take a gamble with the health of its citizens and that is why we are warning that if they believe that they are convinced, we will hold them to that but let them meet their own conditions.
“These public schools they are talking about many of them are without fences. How do they monitor children coming into the schools? The teachers there, how much of COVID-19 prevention and control do they have? What are they to do during emergency?”
The president who further stated that, “We have said that it is not auspicious to open schools now because the number of measures that should be put in place have not been put in place.
“You don’t put something on nothing and that is what we have been saying.
“The basis for reopening schools is not there yet. The government must go back to the drawing board. They have to put what they have to put in place before they open our schools. It is a collective jeopardy.
“Certainly, we know they (government) have not done what they needed to have done. Because they have not done that, the way forward is that they have to go back to the drawing board.”
He however advised the government to engage all the structures in the education sector before reopening learning centres.
He also showed concerns about classes in public schools that are congested and wondered how social distancing will be observed.
Meanwhile, the national coordinator of the task force, Dr. Aliyu Sani, said the PTF did not approve the reopening of all schools.
Sani said the decision to reopen schools for JSS3 and SS3 students was duly discussed by the PTF with all relevant stakeholders.
Sani said that the task force had communicated state governments on measures to take to reopen schools for final students.
He said: “With all due respect, Prof Ogunyemi was talking as if we are reopening all schools. “Remember we are opening only two classes- SS3 and JSS3. We are opening them for a short period of time in order to get their revision classes done and in order for students to do their examinations.
“We have been looking at different options and this is being led by the federal Ministry of Education because we are running a multi-sectoral response.
“We have got to look at the option of JSS3 and SS3 opening for a short period of time in a safe way to undergo revision for a few weeks and then have their exams done.”