Chiemeka ADINDU, Calabar
Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, Cross River Wing, Elder Eyo-Nsa Itam has called on the federal and state governments to take the safety of relevant stakeholders in the country into consideration following plans to resume school for exit classes on August 4, 2020.
Itam made the call during an interview with TNN at the NUT secretariat in Calabar, Cross River State. He stressed that the union is fully in support of resumption of schools if measures are put in place for the safety of the teachers, parents and students.
He said, “Resumption of schools is what we have been yearning for. We are in support of safe resumption of school; we are not against resumption of school. But our concern is on the degree of preparedness of the government, the parents, the students and the teachers so as not to hamper the resumption. For instance, if we are not prepared today and COVID-19 is escalated again, there is every tendency that schools will shut down again”.
He revealed that the Cross River state government has promised the provision of protective gears, running water, fumigation of schools and other safety measures. He maintained that if that is being carried out that there would not be issues. He however noted that the major challenge faced in the state during the test run of resumption of schools in the three senatorial districts was late arrival of the materials especially in Cross River North.
“So the government may have good intentions, but the logistics may be faulty. As far as Cross River state is concerned, I am sure that the government will do their bid but if they don’t, we cannot risk the lives of the stakeholders”, he accrued.
He advised parents to train their children on how to use the protective gears and how to conduct themselves in the school. He also advised the teachers to do their bid in ensuring that the health guidelines are strictly followed as they have always been reliable in times past.
Speaking on the time frame given for preparation before the exam kick starts, he said, “I strongly believe that two weeks in more than enough. It is believed that the children have already covered the syllables because they were already getting ready for the exams before the pandemic came up. So a good child even while on lock down must have been rehearsing what has been taught. So the two weeks is going to be sort of revision of what they were taught. The children should know that preparation for the exam is for their success.”
The NUT boss was also of the opinion that the chances of full resumption of school this year is very low. “I don’t see the possibility of full resumption of schools in the country this year, but government has a way of doing their things”, he pointed out. He also decried the serious setback in the education sector as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
In a separate interview, Special Adviser to the governor on education, Hon. Castro Ezama said the face shields and every other thing are ready for distribution. “Today is public holiday and we can’t start going to homes to give to the students. It will be distributed in schools when schools reopen from the 4th of August. So it would be distributed accordingly.” He stated.
Ezama also confirmed that the logistics for the distribution of the items has been concluded. He assured that the state governor, Prof. Ben Ayade who he described as the ‘Emperor of COVID-19 has put everything in place to ensure the safety of all stakeholder in education sector in the state.
Call to mind that in a statement issued on Monday by Director of Press and Public Relations, Ministry of Education, Ben Bem Goong, the federal government announced August 4, 2020 as the date for resumption of secondary schools across the country.
According to the statement, the decision was reached after a meeting of stakeholders in the education sector. It added that only students in exit classes are expected to resume, so as to participate in the West African Examination, WAEC, exercise scheduled to begin on August 17, 2020.