Sometimes people wonder why government takes some decisions. They wonder whether government takes people into consideration before arriving at some major policies that have direct effect on the people. People expect them to consider the long and short term implications of certain actions they take before putting a seal to it as government decision.
My grouse in this article is the decision of the Delta state government a few weeks on the modalities for school resumption. I’m yet to understand why senior, junior secondary and primary school students should resume school and children in the kindergarten are not to resume and wait till January 2021.
It baffles me how that decision was reached and accepted. I expect the authorities to reason that parents will go to their different places of work, whether civil service, private or self-employed, markets or wherever. The senior children will also leave for school. The question now is “who takes care of the little children at home when everybody has left? Here, there is a fault in that policy. Whoever concluded that decision made a mistake.
It would have been acceptable to parents that the little ones go to school and the senior ones who can take care of themselves are left at home. But making a decision which bars infants from going to school when every other person has left the house leaves much to be desired. Before arriving at certain policies, authorities must put themselves in the shoe of people who the decisions will affect. I seem not to understand what the authorities in the ministry of basic and secondary education stand to gain in this decision.
The policy is putting parents in a very tight corner. There is confusion in most homes as the decision is most unwelcome. Parents are angry as the decision has not been of any help to them. The education authorities should have reasoned and asked who takes care of the little children when parents have gone to work and the senior children have gone to both primary and secondary schools. Not every home has house help. These days not everybody is even interested in employing house helps seeing all the issues surrounding house helps in Nigeria.
This decision therefore needs be reversed. Yes, the ministry has said resumption of school will be in phases but this one does not fall in. Parents are not at home with it. Although the ministry has made some landmark achievements with the posting of this commissioner, Patrick Ukah, to the ministry, this decision of keeping little children at home while every other person has gone to wherever is most unacceptable.
I understand that the ministry is sending detectives to monitor schools, especially private schools whose authorities may flout this policy and get them either fined or shut down. This is not an achievement in any form. It is rather making parents and the schools to device any means possible to flout the directive of the ministry of basic and secondary education. If for any reason, ministry officials on inspection found any school with children and pass verdict on it, it is a great disservice to the school and the parents.
While we agree that the government is fighting against COVID-19 in the state, we must also agree that COVID-19 has not been effective in the bodies of children. If a clear statistics is taken, you will see that the people affected whether Nigeria or abroad are majorly adults and not children. Yes, children are also affected but very low percentage. There are many parents who send their children to these schools not necessarily to learn but a kind of day care for their infant babies so that they go to their work and fend for their homes. This is one of the biggest reasons why the decision is not favourable to the parents.
Some schools are receiving the children but hiding them away from public view. They know how to do it. I should not tell you what they are doing. It is of mutual benefit to both the school authority and the parents and that I should not explain. Parents and school authorities are devising these strategies because the education authorities did not put them into consideration before arriving at this unacceptable decision.
I have said that Patrick Ukah has taken some good decisions upon resumption of office and everyone knows it. He has been visiting schools, punishing deviant principals and teachers, organising various programmes, all in a bid to strengthen the school system and restore the lost glory. But this decision was not properly thought out before it was sealed and signed. It is inconsiderate, unacceptable to parents, disturbing to the children and to say the least, it is exposing the children to certain society ills.