The Federal Government says it is thinking of sectionalising classes for primary, secondary, and tertiary institutions in the country ahead of school reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba, stated this on Wednesday during a briefing by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja.
The minister, who faulted the reports that schools would reopen in the country on June 8, said the government could not afford to take any costly risk, especially as it regards the safety of pupils and students in the country.
He said, “Until we are sure these children can go to school, return safely and not bring up with them COVID-19 and infect people who are more susceptible than they are, then we are running a huge risk and God forbid, in our hurry, something happens to our children, I am not sure how anybody will be able to retrieve what has been lost.”
Nwajiuba said the ministry is being guided by the advice of experts as well as those of the World Health Organisation, noting that the decision to reopen schools in the country would be carefully arrived at because education is on the concurrent list of the Nigerian Constitution.
He appealed to private owners of schools in the country to co-operate with the government in ensuring the safe reopening of schools in the country.
“We are going to publish a specification on what we expect COVID-19 or post-COVID-19 reopening to look like. We are not talking about coping with COVID-19 but in spite of COVID-19, we expect that we will adapt.
“For a country that has over 115,000 primary schools, you will understand that 35,000 of these who are private must agree to set up the same standard in other to allow children to go in.
“We may have classes in the morning and classes in the afternoon so that we will have the whole of the infrastructure divided provided they can serve us. I am not sure we will have classes at night. But we can do with morning and afternoon for now,” he explained.
Nwajiuba said aside ensuring that social distancing is observed when schools reopen, said the ministry is working on sanitation in the schools, noting that the government wants to ensure that all schools could deploy pedal-push handwashing machines.