/On the Matter of Schools and COVID-19

On the Matter of Schools and COVID-19

Nothing illustrates our lack of clarity on goals about anything better than the manner in which the Government people have handled the educational sector in the last 3 months. It is so easy to just state very vaguely that children would not be subjected to the risks associated with resumption of school. Minister Adamu Adamu asserted that students will never resume until things improve. How easy to just speak?

But what is the improvement in our present situation? How do we know and see it that improvement has come? What are the indices that will trigger further action towards getting back to school? There is no inkling whatsoever. All we have is a mere directive to halt and then do nothing. It is just a freeze order from the “oga at the top.” The tone of Minister Adamu seems to suggest personal annoyance with the statement by WAEC while is meeting was on last Wednesday.

Now suppose the following executable points are to be used by the makers of policy to benchmark progress:

  1. Making sure that every school have water supply: Borehole or water tanker for a cluster of schools
  2. Making sure that every school have hygiene and sanitisation centre with the continuous provision of consumables
  3. Making sure that every school has a sick bay with at least a qualified nurse, but with a Doctor assigned to a cluster of schools in the same neighbourhood
  4. The formalisation of Daily Shift System or Alternate day attendance in a 3 Day week rotation.
  5. Execute classroom construction projects towards making a class size of 15 to be standard across the country. It might be Public-Private Partnerships to build more schools in underserved regions
  6. The process to treat every boarding house as an Isolation Centre, such that all incoming students are tested and once admitted would no longer leave the premises until the end of the term
  7. Redistribution and reallocation of students in neighbourhoods, such that all can walk to school. This will entail a framework for compensating private schools as they are impacted. This might kick-start the policy of grant in aid to private schools.
  8. Palliative support and salary subsidy to the staff of all private schools
  9. Predication of resumption on a drop in the number of COVID-19 tested positives drop from the present national daily average of 500 to say less than 100 over a period of say 30 days: the so-called flatten the curve requirement.
  10. Predication of resumption on the formulation of a proven formula for the medical treatment for COVID-19
  11. Predication of resumption on the production of cure-all vaccine for COVID-19
  12. A laptop per child policy has emerged as a practical response to the new epoch. Steps towards the establishment of laptop manufacturing companies ought to have been in the works by now
  13. An opportunity to utilize NIGCOMSAT facility to give free Bandwidth to schools has arisen.
  14. A policy for local assembly of solar panels has also become a very important consideration for providing electricity to educational institutions

There are just so many opportunities for intervention by our “Ogas at the Top.” Commitment to executing all the above would have been a transparent course of action that would be quite easy to assimilate and follow stakeholders. Rather, all we have is an order with an indefinite end, that discloses no course of action.

Other societies apply wisdom and take adversity to be an opportunity to transform and leapfrog into advancement. But we seem to falter so much. Yet, it is time we work towards a better image for the black race segment of humanity.

Dr. Akin FAPOHUNDA

Dr. Akin Fapohunda