The 19 Northern States have expressed their full support on Federal Government’s decision on the postponement of reopening schools in the country.
In a Communique issued by Commissioners of Education of the 19 Northern States involved in Student Exchange Programme (SEP), they commended the Federal Government’s stand on keeping schools closed in order to ensure that children remain safe during this Covid-19 pandemic.
The Commissioners of Education from the 19 Northern States involved in secondary schools’ exchange program (SEP), on July 9, 2020, held a virtual meeting to discuss pressing issues, including school reopening and other matters affecting the education sector.
Several challenges confronting the schools under SEP were enumerated and discussed, with a view to finding lasting solutions and strengthening the education sector.
“The Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu’s stand on postponement of school reopening was commendable and we are in full support of the decision,” says the Communique.
“The ministers’ reasons for keeping schools closed was appropriate in ensuring that children remain safe while efforts were being made to make schools safe from Coronavirus (COVID-19) before reopening will be considered,” it adds.
According to the Commissioners, 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 Commissioners also recommended that 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.”
“We 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,” the Commissioners said in the Communique.
They however noted that 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.”
They also commend the ban of child begging in the name of Almajiri system of education by northern state governors, and called on States to 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 Commissioners also agreed that the challenges affecting the School Exchange Programme should be addressed by various state governments to ensure high standard of learning in the schools.
They further note that sports, quiz and debating competition among schools in the region will be reintroduced and other interventions implemented to bring back the lost glory of the students exchange programme.
The meeting have in attendance 13 states namely; Kaduna, Bauchi, Gombe, Niger, Nassarawa, Adamawa, Taraba, Kogi, Kwara, Katsina, Kano, Borno and Jigawa.