The announcement of school resumption for primary 6, Junior Secondary 3 and Senior Secondary 6 may not be feasible following the unwillingness of all unions associated with the education sector in the country to comply with the directive. Their reasons are mountainous.
The union’s unwillingness to go back to classes, according to them does not imply stubbornness on their part, but, the government has not put necessary measures in place to combat the coronavirus in the schools in case of any suspected case among students and teachers when classes are in session.
The unions in the education sector which met include the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and Associated Institutions (NASU), Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU), Senior Staff Association of Polytechnics (SSANIP), Senior Staff Union of in Colleges of Education, Nigeria (SSUCOEN), National Association of Academic Technologist (NAAT), Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) and the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP).
According to The Nation, after much deliberation, the unions expressed worry over the increasing spread of the coronavirus around the country and the fact that there are no enough facilities in the schools that would help in the social and physical distancing protocol of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the federal and state ministries of health. The unions agreed that some measures needed be put in place prior to resumption of schools.
They are of the opinion that the federal government should hold a meeting with all stakeholders in the primary and secondary education sector and ascertain the readiness of the government before calling for resumption of schools. Some say what the government is saying about their readiness at the moment is mere politics. But the teachers do not want to play politics with the life of students or their members.
Their argument is that the government must put certain preventive measures in place before calling for resumption. We understand that the issue of social distancing will be a great problem as a number of schools do not have enough seats and classrooms where the spacing can be followed. Many students sit in very close proximity and some even compress themselves in the classrooms.
These are issues that must be addressed before calling for resumption of schools. With the stand of the NUT executives and others, the resumption announced by the presidential taskforce on COVID-19 may not be feasible. Although private school owners have been clamouring for resumption, the government cannot resume for private schools without the public schools. And again, for the final year examinations, especially WAEC, no single state can write the exam without the other. So, the challenge is a large one.
Though one does not need to give a damning prediction, it is, however, important to say that with the issues on ground, the possibility of writing WAEC in this year 2020 is bleak. The reasons are gradually becoming obvious for all to see. With this development, except handled for the exam to be written, WAEC may have issues with the money that has been paid for the examination.