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COVID-19: FG halts schools’ resumption, stops WASCE

Adamu: We’ll rather lose a year than exposing children to danger

The Federal Government has reversed its earlier directive on the resumption of schools in the country. It said that students and pupils in graduating classes who were billed to resume for revision classes preparatory to their final examinations will no longer be allowed to do so because of the worsening spread of coronavirus infections in Nigeria. Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, stated this yesterday while briefing State House Correspondents after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Adamu said that the Unity Schools and other schools under the supervision of the Federal Government will not resume classes until it was safe to do so. The schools were earlier directed to resume classes in order to participate in the West African Senior School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) scheduled to hold between August 4th and September 5th; the Junior Secondary School Certificate Examination (JSSCE) and the National Common Entrance Examination (NCE) for pupils in primary six.

Adamu declared that going by the rate at which the coronavirus disease (COVID- 19) was ravaging the country, no Nigerian school will reopen any time soon until it was safe to do so. “Schools under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Education will not reopen on Aug. 4 or any time soon. “Our schools will only open when we believe it’s safe for our children and that is when the situation is right, not when the incidence of the infection is going up in the nation. I just want to make it clear.

The minister frowned at the way and manner WAEC was handling the issue of the examination timetable. He, therefore, emphasised that no school would participate in the West African Senior School Certificate Examinations earlier scheduled for between August 4 and September 5. “Yesterday we called on stakeholders who will tell us the situation and the way it should be done for it to be safe. While the meeting was going on, WAEC announced that they are starting examinations. Let’s see who they are going to start with.

“We will not open schools for examination or for any reason, unless it is safe for our children. Even WAEC will not determine for us what we should do. Schools will remain closed. “I will also like to use this opportunity to ask those states that have already announced reopening of their schools to have a rethink.

I appeal to them. I think it is not safe. I feel responsible for all children, not just those who are in Federal Government-controlled schools. Please let’s save our children from this. “One infected child is enough to infect a whole class. When they close from class, they go into the dormitory, because children cannot observe social distancing as expected.

“This is not the right time to open schools. I appeal to the states that have already announced to reconsider it,” the minister said. Adamu said that he would not mind Nigeria losing a whole school year rather than exposing school children to danger. This year’s Senior School Certificate Examination, administered by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), was postponed indefinitely in April after it was earlier scheduled to commence the examination in May. It was postponed after schools were shut down across the country in a bid to contain the spread of COVID- 19. Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, had during a media briefing by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 on Monday July 6, announced that the examinations will now take place between August 4 and September 5, this year. Adamu disclosed that the FEC has approved an agreement between the Kaduna Polytechnic (KADPOLY) and an investor to renovate 18 blocks of student hostels.

The 15-year concession contract is at the cost of N744,264 million and under a Renovate Operate, Maintain and Transfer (ROMT) arrangement. “It will take one year to construct the hostels, after which the contractor will run it for 15 years within which they will recover what they have sunk into the project.

“There are 18 blocks of hostels and each room in a block will house four students. The total number of students to be housed will be 4,032,” he said. Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, also told newsmen that the Council approved the sum of N25 billion for the augmentation of the Enugu – Lokponta section of the Enugu – Port Harcourt highway. Fashola disclosed that the second memoranda he submitted was on the award of three different roads. He said that the first was the Dikwa-Marte-Mungunu road for N60.273 billion; the Numan road linking Borno and Adamawa for N15.527 billion and the third was for Gombi-Biu linking Adamawa and Borno also for N7.643 billion.

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