Reps contest schools’ resumption date, warn of danger ahead
As educational institutions prepare to open their doors to millions of Nigerian students who are stranded at home because of the much dreaded Coronavirus, the House Committee on Basic Education and Services says the decision of the Federal Government to reopen schools may be ill advised.
For months, students have being stuck at home as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, with most parents worried about the future of their adolescent children.
The pressure is even higher among working class families that have no access to house helps.
This class of Nigerians who are struggling to stay above the poverty line, do not have persons who would look after their children while they are away at work.
But the House Committee headed by Professor Julius Ihonvbere, a notable professor of Political Science who taught for several years at the University of Port Harcourt said in a statement that lawmakers were opposed to the idea of reopening schools at this time.
The statement released on Saturday said, ” The Committee on Basic Education and Services, House of Representatives, has received with concern the decision of the Federal Government to reopen schools on January 18, 2021.
“We are particularly concerned that when the infection rates hovered around 500 and under, schools were closed; but now that it hovers well above 1,000 infections daily, schools are being reopened.”
Querying the Federal Government decision, the House Committee further asked, “Why are we rushing to reopen schools without adequate verifiable and sustainable arrangements to protect and secure our children?”
Schools are expected to resume Monday, following a directive by the Federal Government in response to pressures that are coming from several quarters across the country.
Of late, the safety of young Nigerians and those who are teaching them has become a matter of great debate.
ASUU which has just called off a nationwide strike recently expressed serious indignation over the rush to reopen schools across the country, citing danger to the health of its members as a primary reason.
The union said on that occasion that it would want the Federal Government to provide certain safeguards which will prevent avoidable deaths in the school system.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives is claiming that the Federal Government has not consulted it over the matter.
Its House Committee Chairman, Professor Ihonvbere suggested Saturday, that it would be ideal to have a three – month extention in order to enable the system comply with all relevant Covid – 19 guidelines and ensure the health of the Nigerian people.
“They did not consult us; at least in my committee, nobody from the ministry spoke to me”, Ihonvbere said to The Punch.
“I have been in Abuja. And I am not sure that they spoke to any of my members. They just don’t see us as part of the critical stakeholders,” he added.
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