Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna
The 19th northern states have rolled out five guidelines to be met before participating in WASSEC and supporting the reopening of schools. The five conditions, according to the communiqué of the 19th northern states education commissioners involved in Student Exchange Programme, SEP, among others, is to address the challenges affecting SEP by various state governments to ensure high standard of learning in schools.
In the communiqué issued at the end of the virtual meeting on schools reopening and other matters held on Thursday, 9th July, 2020, commissioners also demanded that sports, quiz and debating competition among schools in the region be reintroduced and other interventions implemented to bring back the lost glory of the students’ exchange programme.
The communiqué signed by Commissioner of Education, Kaduna State and Chairman School Exchange Programme, Mr. Shehu Usman Muhammed, Ph.D, further resolved that schools should be opened only when it is safe to do so and when states have complied with the minimum COVID-19 safety protocols as outlined by the NCDC.
“We will participate in WASSCE and other examinations only when it is safe to reopen schools and when coordinated by the Federal Ministry of Education. States should carry out a holistic assessment of schools to determine their readiness to reopen and submit report to their respective governors for consideration.
“The states should also take steps to provide critical facilities required for reopening of schools as specified by the NCDC.
“Schools’ infrastructure, such as dilapidated classrooms, students hostels, source of safe water, sanitary facilities, including hand washing equipment and security should be improved, while clearing of grasses and fumigation of the schools surroundings should be conducted to support learning and ensure safety when schools resume.
SEP earlier observed that the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu’s stand on postponement of school reopening was commendable, declared their full support for the decision.
“The ministers’ reasons for keeping schools closed were appropriate in ensuring that children remain safe, while efforts were being made to make schools safe from COVID-19 before reopening will be considered.
“There is the need for the minister to coordinate meetings in the education sector to find common ground and agree on safe reopening of schools.
“The Federal Government needs to support states in putting safety measures in place for school reopening as parts of its COVID-19 Social Intervention Project, considering that many states may not have the financial strength to embark on such a huge capital extensive project. This could be done with support from development partners or through loans,” they stated.
On the ban of child begging in the name of Almajiri system of education by northern state, SEP commended the governors. It however, stated that they should come up with a legal framework to enforce the ban and carry out massive awareness campaign to enlighten the public and enlist the support of parents and caregivers.
The meeting had in attendance 13 states, namely, Kaduna, Bauchi, Gombe, Niger, Nassarawa, Adamawa, Taraba, Kogi, Kwara, Katsina, Kano, Borno and Jigawa.