Vice President, Industrial Global Union, Comrade Issa Aremu, has called on the Federal Government to negotiate an extension of date for West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSSCE), until the COVID-19 curve which is currently on the rise would have been sufficiently flattened.
He said that, there should be continuous dialogue by all stakeholders as steps were been taken to reopen schools, on how to reopen with a view to protecting the lives of students and ensuring digital creative learning processes.
Speaking in Kaduna on Saturday on the occasion of this year’s International Nelson Mandela Day, themed: COVID: 19: PREVENTING THE SPREAD IN SCHOOLS, Aremu said, though timetable for WAEC’s SSCE has been announced to commence from August 4, the out of season date was necessary to protect school children.
Comrade Aremu who is also a Member of National Institute, Kuru Jos argued that, “In Kenya, schools will remain shut till 2021. Ghana is already reconsidering the decision on reopening after a spike in COVID-19. The JAMB Bulletin Volume 1 No. 18 of July 13, culled from a creditable South African source, 775 schools in the country have been affected by COVID-19. About 26 of the states in America are rolling back the plan to reopen schools.”
He however advised that caution should be the watch word because even with the adults there is an inefficiency of the NPIs (Non-pharmaceutical Interventions) to control COVID-19.
Nigerian government should request WAEC to conduct the SSCE when the environment is right out of the regular May/June, November/December seasons. What ever the consensus on schools reopening, there is an urgent need for a systematic awareness about prevention of Virus infection among pupils teachers and parents,” he said.
“There should be Installation of hand-washing facilities, provision of equipment for body temperature checks, provision of personal protective equipments, body disinfectants at all entering points to their major facilities, including the gates, hostels, classes, offices, decontamination of the s hills premises and teaching facilities that ensure social/physical distancing in class sizes and meeting spaces among.
“All these raise the critical issues of capacity and resources availability. The most important advice is for all schools to encourage their students to maintain good hand and respiratory hygiene to remain safe. School proprietors, headmasters, and head mistresses must ensure that students have access to clean water and soap at all times while on the school premises.
“The best way for schools to avoid COVID-19 infection is to ensure students and teachers wash their hands frequently, show students how to cough or sneeze into a tissue, or to cough into their elbow if they cannot get tissue, clean and disinfect their premises often and encourage sick students and teachers to stay home,” he said.
He explained that 2020 Nelson Mandela Day assumed a special importance as the world grapples daily with COVID-19 pandemic.
“What would have had Mandela’s reaction at times like this? Mandela would have called for global partnership and coalition against the pandemic as he rightly did against HIV/ AIDS. The current challenge is school reopening in Nigeria.”
“After four months of closures, there are discussions on possible reopening of schools first for pupils and students in primary six, Junior Secondary School 3 and Senior Secondary School 3 to enable the pupils/students prepare for examinations to complete a phase of their education,” he said.
The labour leader commended government’s response on COVID-19, saying despite the enormous challenges, the Presidential Task force on COVID-19 has done creditably well.
“Also many state governors like that of Kaduna and Kwara have risen to contain the pandemic. One of the commendable decisions of the Federal government is the stay-at- home- order issued by the minister of education in March after due consultations with stakeholders and derived from empirical data from Nigeria’s COVID-19 Presidential Task Force (PTF),” he said.