By Richard Elesho
After a six months break occasioned by the Coronavirus disease pandemic which imposed a new lifestyle on humanity, the Kogi State Government has announced plans to reopen all schools with effect from Monday 14th September. The Kogi State Government has announced plans to reopen all schools with effect from Monday 14th September. All primary, secondary and tertiary institutions in the State are set to commence operations on that date.
This was disclosed Tuesday at a Press Parley by the State Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Mr. Wemi Jones. He said the decision was a product of series of meetings and consultations with stakeholders.
Schools were closed in the State on March 23rd as part of the measures to contain the spread of Coronavirus disease. Although the State government had severally insisted the State was free from the disease, it nevertheless took steps to prevent it’s spread.
For instance, at the start of the holiday, government introduced about two hours of radio learning daily. Similarly, private schools experimented with online teaching. But, both methods could not be sustained even as they were far from the mutual experience of teachers and learners in real classroom situation.
The new policy is hinged on the successful partial reopening of schools to exit students for their examinations The Federal Ministry of Education after intensive and extensive engagements with stakeholders had opened the exit classes. Consequently, the Kogi State Government allowed exit students in Primary 6, JSS3 and SS3 to resume on August 10, 2020, to allow the students write their final examinations respectively.
The schools have since resumed and the students have been writing their examinations without any recorded hitches. The success recorded in this regard according to educators is partly because of the relative small number of students which allows for better monitoring and obedience to covid-19 protocols.
Stakeholders are quick to warn that the government, parents and teachers must not hurriedly dismantle the barricades against the pandemic, lest society risks a relapse.
Jones also towed this line when he stressed that the state government arrived at reopening the schools after assessing the situations of students especially for the exit classes that had resumed, saying ”we have not recorded any negative report as far as Covid-19 pandemic is concerned.
He, therefore advised and encouraged all heads of every school to ensure full compliance with the Covid-19 protocols which had been clearly set out by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Covid-19.
He noted that all these details and guidelines on Covid-19 protocols by PTF were available and in public space.
”The ministry will review the state’s Academic Calendar accordingly to reflect on the new development, and the details would be worked out and released to the relevant stakeholders in due course before resumption.
Jones noted that all relevant educational stakeholders like ANCOPSS, ASSUS, SUBEB, NAPPS, Heads of Tertiary Institutions in the State, NUT, STETSCOM and every other stakeholders are very free to liaise with us at the ministry for further clarification.
”We are equally informing the general public, parents, guardians, schools heads that we are very particular about the health and safety of our learners in Kogi State.
”So, the State Government will not stop at anything to ensure that our learners are kept in good condition as far as Covid-19 pandemic and indeed other diseases or health issues are concerned”, he said.
He, therefore encouraged everybody to play their roles to ensure personal hygiene reiterating that personal hygiene remained the personal responsibility of everybody.
”For the higher institutions, I have personally placed direct telephone calls to the heads of all state’s tertiary institutions and I had discussions with them to ascertain their level of preparedness. It appears that all of them are fully ready for schools’ reopening.
As preparations are being made towards reopening the schools to get life back on track, the prayer on every mind is the safety of students and their teachers. Only a strong political will devoid of window dressing can guarantee this.
Richard Elesho is a journalist of more than 20-year experience reporting politics, Nation and development issues.