Nigeria: Again, ASUU Warns Govt Against Reopening of Schools

2 July 2020

Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has cautioned against the reopening of schools, insisting that it's not ripe for schools to reopen.

The union said the federal government's directive for schools to reopen across the federation amidst the COVID-19 pandemic could endanger the lives of poor Nigerian pupils.

ASUU's National President, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, made this position known yesterday while featuring on Channels Television's programme, Sunrise Daily.

Ogunyemi said: "What we are trying to do now is a crash model - an experimental approach. We want to experiment with the lives of poor Nigerians - children of the poor. Many of us in my bracket - maybe middle class - our children don't fall into that category. And that is probably why we cannot appreciate why we need to do the basic minimum.

"Are we saying that we should open schools without decontaminating the schools? For a government that could go openly to decontaminate streets, to decontaminate markets? Are lives in the schools not as valuable as those working on the streets? We need to do the basic minimum. It is not about income for teachers, income for workers here - it's about what we need to do to avert disaster."

But also speaking on the programme, the National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr. Sani Aliyu, maintained that the reopening of schools for graduating pupils (Primary 6, JSS 3, SSS 3) is imperative because the examinations are set by external bodies.

Aliyu explained: "We have a large number of students that are in the exit classes and they need to move on. These are not exams that are specific only to Nigeria but Africa - the WAEC exams. We need to find a way to safely get these students to write their exams and move on. Otherwise, we will have a serious spillover when it comes to education.

"COVID-19 will go away eventually. Yes, it will go away, it may take a year, it may take longer but what we don't want is to have a significant impact on our educational programmes."

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