Oyo Schools Resumption: Laudable or Laughable?

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Oyo Schools Resumption: Laudable or Laughable?
Nwolu Obiajulu

The Federal government of Nigeria had on 29 June, 2020 permitted the resumption of schools by students in graduating classes to enable them adequately prepare for examinations.

It came as part of guidelines to ensure gradual easing of the lockdown that was imposed across Nigeria to control the spread of novel COVID-19 virus which has forced closure of schools at all levels since March. Bulk of students in the country have been spending time at home since then without access to education.

Though the government directed and implemented to a reasonable extent, teaching through radio and television, the measure has been with inherent obstacles. Parents have complained of the inability of children to maintain concentration levels while learning through broadcast channels at home.

Since the home is not a school environment, children are challenged by distractions which come from being at the comfort of their homes without physical presence of their teachers which serve to ensure better focus. Added to the challenge of concentration is the issue of teaching being tailored to specific needs of each child, considering the age and educational level of students.

The hurdles led to low subscription to the broadcast tutorials. It is safe to say that while students in government schools are constrained to learning through broadcast stations, their counterparts in elite private schools seem better placed. Private schools were quick to adopt a mix of Zoom and other e-learning platforms to ensure well-tailored and systematic learning models for their students.

The announcement of a waiver to restart schools may be construed to imply best intentions for pupils who haven’t had access to traditional mode of learning but there arises need for pertinent questions on the issue of health safety- has COVID-19 been defeated? Have government put in place safety measures to guarantee property hygiene and physical distancing? Have school personnel been trained to implement outlined measures? Do private schools have the capacity to acquire the needed devices? Will government make implement necessary adjustments in crowded government schools?

While the questions raised are pondered upon, Oyo state government pioneered resumption. It is interesting to note that the state government planned a resumption that preceded the announcement of the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 headed by Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha.

On June 19, the Oyo state governor Seyi Makinde, had announced a June 29 resumption date for students in critical classes- Primary Six, JSS 3 and SSS 3.

However, the state’s task force in a communique asked students to resume one week later on July 6.

Announcing the guidelines for resumption in the state, the Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Olasunkanmi Olaleye in Ibadan stated that various trainings have been given to categories of school heads, principals and teachers on how to monitor and report any sign of illness that showed symptoms of Covid-19 to the authority.

He said, “Throughout last week, what we have been doing was to train school heads and teachers of public and private schools, preparing them for this task of taking firm control of preventing the spread of Covid-19 into our schools as we resume.

“Each school has been mandated to strictly enforce social distancing and observe other protocols against Covid-19 among teachers and students as laid down by NCDC.

“Students are to come to school with their facemasks and follow instructions on the guidelines from the management, these are imperative the government cannot lock down forever and education is an aspect of life that should not be allowed to suffer backwardness.

“I can boldly tell you that with these measures in place, the children are more safer with us in school than even many homes, imagine situations whereby students are asked to go to private lessons that provided no safety measure, many follow their parents to the market and workplaces where possibility of contracting the virus is high, so they are rather better kept at school than home,” he observed.

Now that schools have resumed in Oyo, the handling of the resumption could prove either a master stroke or a miserable attempt at rushed restart. The state government has to strictly provide the manpower and resources needed to implement the measures it proposed and diligently monitor compliance.

All schools in the state have to be given maximum attention, consideration and guidance required to not just curb but ensure zero case of the virus in any of its schools.

If the resumption is handled properly by the state, it could serve as model for other states as they plan to resume academic activities at all levels. Haphazard approach on the hand could cause massive spread of the virus in the state. Children are fragile, in the event of ineffective measures and the students contact the virus, onward transmission to grassroot level would be imminent.

The decision to reopen schools could be questioned given the daily spike in cases. Oyo state has at last release by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on 7 July, confirmed 1,530 cases of COVID-19, 19 deaths and 809 discharged patients. Nigeria at large has confirmed 29,789 cases, 669 deaths and 12,108 discharged.

More so, the state governor, Makinde had on 30 March tested positive to the virus with his recovery announced on April 5, five days after being diagnosed with the virus.

Perhaps, Makinde having fought and conquered the disease is convinced the virus is not as lethal as feared. On the contrary, he could have planned effective measures using his experience of contacting and overcoming the virus.

Nigeria has shown great commitment to fighting coronavirus. This could serve as a step in the right direction towards returning to the status quo or a reminder that Nigerians have got to accept the new normal while making conscious effort at adopting technology in teaching and other sectors.

As Oyo state takes the lead, Nigeria and Africa is watching for lessons.




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Nice one