The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has called for the immediate release of intervention funds by the government to all tertiary institutions to enable them to provide safety kits for the students as they prepare to return to school.
The union also asked the government to strengthen e-learning facilities in primary and tertiary institutions through the provision of customised electronic devices to all staff and students.
Schools were shut on March 19 due to the coronavirus outbreak, leaving some school authorities to adopt alternative modes of learning for students at all levels.
However, the federal government on June 29 approved what it called “safe reopening” of schools nationwide in the next phase of the gradual easing of lockdown ordered to curtail further spread of COVID-19.
The government said only students in graduating classes primary six, JSS 3 and SSS 3 are allowed to receive classes in preparation for examinations.
In a communique of a joint meeting of NLC’s affiliate unions and the NLC education committee, which was signed by the NLC president, Ayuba Wabba, and sent to PREMIUM TIMES on Friday, the union asked the government to put in place, ‘transparent’ post-COVID-19 plans.
These, it said, should include the isolation of staff and students who manifest the symptoms of the disease or who have tested positive, without creating any stigma around them.
The unions said the meeting was perturbed by the increasing infections across the country and the dearth of educational infrastructures in Nigeria’s institutions of learning.
The union asked the government to bring all ‘stakeholders’ in the educational sector together to brainstorm on modalities for reopening schools.
Mr Wabba said there is need to re-adjust the Nigerian federal budget for education and implement measures to assist institutions with the financial burden of managing COVID-19.
“It is important to adopt phased/structured education activities, adjust exams and lecture/teaching time, there is a need for National Safe School policies to assist educational institutions to conduct risk assessment audit of schools in the country,” the union said.
The NLC said there is need to revisit the outsourcing policy of security personnel and cleaners, especially in institutions of higher learning ”to enable the institutions to have full control of the security personnel and cleaners, as private cleaners and security personnel cannot guarantee the health and safety of staff and students.”
The union said there is need for expansion of classrooms to ensure observance of the social distancing protocol and an elaborate plan to determine the duration of classes, and sitting arrangements to avoid infection.
It asked for an additional employment of teachers to enable effective teacher-student ratio based on the social distancing protocol
“Provision of out-door learning environment for kids; provision of free internet bandwidth in all institutions to be deployed free to members of staff and students within and around the school premises should be put in place,” the official said.
Government guidelines for resumption
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the federal government in June advised tertiary institutions in Nigeria to put preventive measures against COVID-19 in place before it announces their re-opening.
The minister of education, Adamu Adamu, had urged all institutions not to wait till the announcement on opening before putting in place all necessary measures in compliance with the protocols and advisories of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
The minister said for a campus to be reopened, it must do the following:
(1) Install hand-washing facilities
(2) Have equipment for body temperature checks
(3) Provide body disinfectants at all entering points to their major facilities, including the gates, hostels, classes, offices, etc.
(4) The whole premises of each institution must be decontaminated.
(5) All efforts must be geared toward maintenance of the highest level of hygiene
(6) Ensure social/physical distancing in class sizes and meeting spaces.