Coronavirus: Don’t re-open schools – Issa Aremu tells FG

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Labour leader, Comrade Issa Aremu has urged the Federal Government to postpone West African Examinations Council (WAEC), pending when the current rise in Coronavirus (COVID-19), cases would have reduced drastically, noting that education should not be at the risk of lives.

Speaking against the backdrop of ongoing consultations with stakeholders by the federal government on reopening of schools particularly for final year pupils and students to write their final examinations, Issa said education is key to the development of any nation, but it should not be detrimental to the health and ultimately lives of students and their teachers.

Addressing the 2020 Nelson Mandela Day on Saturday in Kaduna with the theme: ‘Students Lives Matter’,  the Vice President of Industrial Global Union and former Vice President of Nigeria Labour Congress said, “there should be continuous dialogue by all stakeholders on how to reopen schools with a view of protecting the lives of students and ensuring digital creative learning.

“The timetable for the WAEC’s Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) has been announced to commence from 4 August.  I support the opinion that Nigeria should negotiate an out-of-season date for WAEC, SSCE until the COVID-19 curve which is currently on the rise would have flattened sufficiently.

“In Kenya, schools will remain shut till 2021. Ghana is already reconsidering the decision on reopening after a spike in COVID-19. About 775 South African schools have been affected by COVID-19. About  26 of the states in America are rolling back the plan to reopen schools. Caution should be the watchword because even with the adults there is an inefficiency of the NPIs (Non-pharmaceutical Interventions) to control COVID-19.

“Nigerian government should request WAEC to conduct the SSCE when the environment is right out of the regular May/June, November/ December seasons. Whatever the consensus on schools reopening, there is an urgent need for a systematic awareness about prevention of virus infection among pupils teachers and parents.”

“There should be Installation of  hand-washing facilities, provision of equipment for body temperature checks, provision of personal protective types of equipment, body disinfectants at all entering points to their major facilities, including the gates, hostels, classes, offices, decontamination of the school premises and teaching facilities that ensure social/physical distancing in class sizes and meeting spaces among others.”

Speaking on the 2020 Nelson Mandela Day, Issa said the United Nations in 2009, picked Nelson Mandela’s birthday to commemorate the global legend’s contribution to humanity.

“Today Saturday, 18 July 2020, we bring to all solidarity greetings on this year’s International Nelson Mandela Day. NMD honours and celebrates Nelson Mandela’s birthday for his selfless service to humanity, the only one to be so recognized.

“Mandela was a revolutionary political leader democratically elected as the President of non-racist South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He struggled to dismantle apartheid based on white supremacy. He is also considered to be the father of modern democratic South Africa.

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“International Nelson Mandela Day is NOT a public holiday but a day to honour the legacy and values of Mandela. To highlight Mandela’s work fighting for social justice, in 67 years. A  day of a global call to action with the idea that every individual has the power to transform the world and to make an impact. The objective is to inspire governments, individuals and organizations to take action to help change the world for the better.

“The 2020 Nelson Mandela Day assumes special importance as the world grapples with  COVID-19 pandemic. More than 14 million have been infected worldwide with more than 600 deaths. In Nigeria, we have lost 772 people. Over 35,000 have been infected and the numbers are still increasing. The infected include old and young, men and women. South Africa is the epicentre of the pandemic in Africa with 4,802 deaths and 400,000 infections,” Issa added.

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