Nigerian govt, UNICEF begin process of reopening schools
The Federal Ministry of Education in conjunction with the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, Committee on Safe School Re-opening, on Monday, began a process for the development of school reopening readiness template.
Azuka Menkiti, Education Specialist, UNICEF, made this known in Kaduna, at the opening of a three-day technical Meeting of the Committee on Safe School Re-opening.
She said this is to guide the re-opening of schools across the country.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the meeting was organised by the Federal Ministry of Education, with support from UNICEF, to put measures in place for safe re-opening of schools.
Mrs Menkiti explained that the template would identify actions that would be implemented at every level of education governance, to ensure that schools were safe for students and pupils to return and learn.
She said that the template would look at four components, namely safety operations; quality of learning; child protection and wellbeing; and inclusiveness.
“The meeting was, therefore, organised to develop a standard, actionable, and practical integrated school re-opening readiness template that will provide the necessary support to stakeholders for safe reopening of schools.
“This integrated approach will ensure that all relevant stakeholders use the template to measure readiness for school resumption amidst COVID-19 pandemic.
“We equally want to chart a way forward for safe learning facilities for quality teaching and learning.
“This will ensure that safety measures are put in place in schools, learning continues, and gaps are filled for students and pupils, child protection and wellbeing assured, and no one is left behind,” she said.
The education specialist said that at the end of the meeting, the committee would come up with a template showing the requirement that every school governance structure needs to put in place.
She added that the committee would equally develop a cost model, indicating how much it would cost to implement the template across different categories of schools based on population.
According to her, the cost model will serve as a guide for the interventions of development partners and other stakeholders in the education sector.
“This will help development partners to redirect their funds to adequately respond to challenges occasioned by COVID-19 in the sector.
“We will also come up with a clear monitoring template for compliance as well as a Monitoring Team that will ensure that everybody who needs to do something does it,” she said.
Also speaking, Binta Abdulkadir, Director, Basic and Secondary Education Department, Federal Ministry of Education, said that the step was necessary, stressing those children cannot continue to stay at home.
Mrs Abdulkadir, who was represented by Josephine Nwaobiara, Deputy Director, Basic and Secondary Education in the ministry, noted the need for continuity of learning in times of emergencies.
“There is, therefore, the need for us to put a guideline that will ensure the needed safety in schools for our children to return to school,” she said.
On his part, Dr Yahya Disu, Head, Risk Communication Division, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, stressed the need for effective communication and information sharing across all levels in the education sector.
Mr Disu added that the readiness template would ensure strong linkage among education stakeholders that would enhance prevention, early detection, and contact tracking of suspected cases of COVID-19 in schools.
“It will also facilitate the establishment of schools’ health team that will implement safety protocols and regular education of staff, students, pupils and other stakeholders on COVID-19 while in school,” he added.