January 18: Reps, FG Disagree On School Resumption Date

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From Segun Amure, (The New Diplomat’s Abuja Bureau)

The House of Representatives on Saturday disagreed with the federal government on the announced January 18th resumption date for schools in the country.

After the much controversy surrounding the reopening of schools, the Federal Ministry of Education had on Thursday, 14 January affirmed the resumption date through its Press and Public Relation Officer, Ben Goong.

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Goong who said there was no change in the school resumption date said the decision to fully reopen schools was reached at a consensus meeting with various stakeholders including– Governors, Commissioners of Education, Proprietors and heads of institutions, staff unions and students.

The education ministry listed measures that must be put in place by schools to include “compulsory temperature checks and hand washing facilities at strategic locations in all schools, ensuring constant supply of water and sanitizers and enforcement of maintenance of social distancing and suspension of large gatherings such as assembly and visiting days.”

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Following the nod by the federal government, several states have directed schools to re-open on Monday, 18 January.

However, the Chairman, House Committee on Basic Education and Services, Prof Julius Ihonvbere, in a statement titled, “School resumption: Are we truly prepared?” queried the Ministry of Education’s decision to reopen school without proper consultation with the House committee on Education.

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“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.” the statement read.

“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. Why are we rushing to reopen schools without adequate verifiable and sustainable arrangements to protect and secure our children?”

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The House committee on Basic Education and Services demanded three months postponement of school resumption date to allow necessary safety measures to be put in place across the country in line with the Covid 19 protocols and guidelines for school reopening.

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