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Why We Advised Schools Should Remain Closed For Now - ASUU

The Academic Staff Union of Universities has said it agreed to the decision of the Federal Government to stop the Senior Secondary School 3 pupils from partaking in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination earlier scheduled to commence on August 4.

ASUU advised the federal government of Nigeria to shut down schools until 2021 to ensure adequate preparations. The union cited the case in some countries such as Kenya and Ghana, where prematurely reopening of schools only lead to regret in later days.

It was confirmed that the Federal Ministry of Education in Nigeria met with officials of the West African Examination Council (WAEC) in Abuja and concluded to decide a new date for the examination.

The Minister of State for Education, Mr. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, had said the government would meet with the four other West African countries under WAEC to set a new date for the examination. This he said while declaring COVID -19 necessary guidelines for schools which must be kept before July 29.

The President of ASUU, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, who made the advice, said no sensible government would take such risk unless parents would be told to sign an undertaking.

Ogunyemi had referred to Kenya, which he said they have closed all their schools till next year ( 2021). He said they too have exams to write. Our government should consider safety first. If it means closing the schools until next year to protect the lives of Nigerian children and safeguard the health of all Nigerians, it worth it.

According to Ogunyemi, if that process will help us to address cases that can lead to increased mortality in the future, I think we should go that way and all of us should reason well about it. If they need to cancel admission for the year, it is ok for our health system. Life matters first, it is the living that goes to university, it is the living that gains admission. They have to be alive first before they can go to university. Even if they gain admissions, are the universities ready to work now?

Ogunyemi claimed the position of ASUU is that they should not experiment with the lives of our children. 'We hope the situation will soon normalize and they can do their exams'. He said. He also reminded me that there is another opportunity for external candidates around November. So, the door is not totally closed.

The ASUU president furthered by saying that the union had not seen any proof to show that schools were safe for students to go back.

He said the first thing that should be tackled is whether schools are safe or not. And if the schools are not safe, why should we carry out an experiment with the lives of our children? An attempt to return those children to school at a time the COVID - 19 cases is toughest in Nigeria is like experimenting with the lives of those children.

He said if the guidelines are followed, if they put all the things in place, including social and physical distancing, sanitizers, kitting the children as we see in other places, decontamination with water flowing in the schools, and all the gadgets, why would the school not open? So, if the government can meet all these conditions, then they can reopen the schools. But obviously, they cannot meet all these conditions, "they should not experiment with the lives of our children”. He concluded.

Meanwhile, the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS) has said that its members are ready for schools to reopen and that, it has directed its members to open schools for about four hours daily, as part of the measure to reduce the spread of COVID - 19.

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ASUU Academic Staff Union of Universities Biodun Ogunyemi Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba Federal Government

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