An Open Letter to The Hon. Minister For Education:
Which is more important, the lives of Edo, Ondo voters or the future of WASSCE candidates?
I am writing you this letter hoping that it will provoke an urgent reaction from you and thereby save our Educational System from further decay. I was disturbed to learn that on Wednesday, July 8, 2020, you, the Minister of Education, Prof. Malam Adamu Adamu had declared that Nigerian schools would not be reopened until the COVID-19 pandemic drastically subsides.
Also, that Nigerian candidates will not participate in West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) scheduled to commence on August 4, 2020.
There is no doubt that your good intention is to protect the lives of Nigerian candidates who registered for the said examination. However, the reopening of Markets, places of worship and allowing all forms of social activities to take place and disallowing Nigerian children from writing an examination they had registered for, calls to questioning on the morality behind your action.
It is pertinent to bring to your notice that researches have proven that the Covid-19 has come to stay; it is not leaving us any soon. It is my hope that the best thing to do is to learn how to live with this virus. For instance, if this virus were to last as long as HIV/AIDS, does it mean that Nigerian school children and students will remain at home as long as it lasts?
Again, the Government which you are part of has not deemed it necessary to stop the gubernatorial elections in Edo and Ondo States as a result of the pandemic. Statistics have shown that Edo has 2,210,534 voters, while Ondo has 1,822,346. This gives a total of 4,032,880 voters. WAEC has 1.5 million registered students in Nigeria.
WASSCE examinations take 5 hours while voting takes the whole day or more. Why not prevail on INEC to put on hold the elections? Or don’t you value and cherish the lives of Edo and Ondo state voters?
If we can cope with the elections and all forms of religious and social activities with laid down Covid-19 protocols, why can’t we go on with the WASSCE and other educational activities with similar preventive strategies?
Nigeria has a fundamental duty to provide education to all her citizens and it is my candid opinion that, that is very possible even in this pandemic.
Therefore, as Minister of Education, you are required to put measures in place to facilitate not only the writing of WASSCE but also, to ensure the reopening of schools within the shortest possible time.
The following suggestions may go a long way to facilitate the reopening of schools:
Provision of hand-washing facilities and sanitizers at the entrance of all school gates, classrooms and lecture halls, provision of facemasks and enforcing its use,putting measures in place to enhance the maintenance of social distancing to avoid overcrowded classrooms and lecture halls, put measures in place to ensure that JSS1 to 3 students attend morning classes from 7:30am to 1:45pm while SS1 to 3 students attend afternoon classes.
Furthermore, the Federal Government should order Heads of tertiary institutions to mandate virtual classes on all general courses (only general courses) while Departmental courses should go for normal physical classes. Departmental courses that have about 400 students should use large lecture theatres meant for general courses. In such a way, social distancing would be maintained.
I request that you take all necessary steps to ensure that all children in Nigeria enjoy the right to Education without further delay.
Eze Emmanuel M. is a 300Level student of English Education, Delta State University Abraka, Delta State.
He is also a Public Affairs Commentator and a Writer. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org