The Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, has warned Oyo State government against its plan to reopen schools from June 29.
The minister described the resolution as ‘insensitive’.
In a statement by the spokesperson of Federal Ministry of Education, Ben Gooong, the minister warned that such decision if taken could increase COVID-19 infection figures in the state.
“As of 10 p.m. on Monday, Oyo ranked fourth on the table with 621 active cases from the 912 infections figures, confirmed in the state by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC),” the statement reads in part.
The minister expressed concern over the plan during the briefing by the Presidential Task Force on COVID -19 Control in Abuja.
The Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, last week explained the state’s plans to reopen schools, worship centres and others against federal government’s directive on the closure.
The state decided to allow the resumption of classes for Primary Six, JSS3 and SS3 students from June 29.
But the minister said the ministry was against the decision; he noted that governors have the primary responsibility to secure the lives of citizens, in the face of a pandemic.
“Like all other sub-nationals, governors were under the Constitution of the Federal Government of Nigeria,” he said.
‘Schools remain closed’
Speaking on why the government cannot reopen schools at this time, the minister said the reopening of schools “could lead to the exposure of teachers, pupils, drivers, cooks, vendors, their family members and friends to the dreaded virus.”
“There are clearly (over) 600 nstitutions awarding certificates all around Nigeria, there are just lots of it. And at any given time in Nigeria, there are two million people attaining one form of education or the other,” he said.
“The least we can do at the moment is to keep our children, our most priced assets, the future of Nigeria under lock and key first. When we are sure that it’s safe to release them, gladly we will.”
Mr Nwajiuba said the ministry was discussing with examination bodies on how final year students could sit their exams.
He said a similar meeting was held in the Gambia on Monday to decide the fate of students waiting to write the West African Examination Council (WAEC).
The minister also said the students would be expected to reconvene for a revision session ahead of the final decisions on WAEC.
“We have finished meeting with WAEC; they are communicating in the Gambia at the moment. When we get feedback from them, we are struggling to see how we can bring the exit year children briefly to come to a revision session ahead if whatever these assemblies have agreed,” he said
On the outcry by parents on payment of outrageous school fees in private schools, the minister appealed to school proprietors to desist from doing so.
He urged them (schools) to approach the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for salary support.
Due to the outbreak of coronavirus, the federal government had ordered the closure of all Nigerian institutions to help contain the spread.
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