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Ebola: Many Schools Are Not Resuming Today

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As directed by the Federal government of Nigeria, all schools in the nation are to resume today, the 22 of September 2014. But pupils in at least 15 states in the country will not return to their classrooms as ordered by the federal government.

This is because teachers are insisting in most of the states that safety measures must be put in place to protect them and their pupils from contracting the deadly Ebola Virus Disease.

Some Governors, like that of Lagos state and Ogun state opted not to comply with the directive given by the federal government and hence not to re-open their schools until necessary Ebola safety kits were put in place in their schools.

Since the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), in Nigeria, courtesy of an American-Liberian Patrick Sawyer, so many issues have dominated public discourse on the safety of Nigerians, most especially the resumption of public and private schools pupils for the 2014/2015 academic calendar year. In apparent determination to checkmate the spread of the deadly epidemic which debuted in Lagos state, the federal government decided some weeks ago to shift the resumption date of schools from September 22 to October 13, 2014, a development which drew the applause of stakeholders in the education and other relevant sectors.

However, the sudden decision by the federal government to revert to September 22, 2014 as the resumption date, citing the successes recorded in the battle to contain EVD generated heated controversy among the key stakeholders in the education sector, most especially the Nigerian Union Of Teachers (NUT).

The NUT president, Mr. Michael Olukoya, after an emergency meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) in Abuja on Tuesday, had directed its members nationwide to shun the federal government's directive that all schools should resume academic activities as ordered.

According to him, the basis for this decision by the NUC stemmed from the failure of state governments to put in place necessary facilities in schools to prevent pupils from contracting the disease. It argued that teachers were not ready to expose students to the dangers of EVD when critical and protective equipment had not been provided to guard against the outbreak of the disease. But the position of the teachers has been faulted by experts who argued that even the teachers who are reluctant to resume work citing health reasons do go to other places like churches and markets. They stressed that the teachers should not use EVD as an excuse.

The other states where normal academic activities will not resume are Rivers, Oyo, Ekiti, Osun, Benue, Niger, Zamfara, Adamawa, Kano, Kwara, Kogi, Akwa Ibom, and Ebonyi states.

Teachers in lagos will be on duty today but pupils will remain at home until October 8.

Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos state, after meeting with public school head teachers on Sunday, said the decision was to  ensure that schools in the state were safe for both the teachers and their pupils. 

"On this issue of resumption, we are on the same side", he said. "We are all concerned about safety in the schools.

Some states that would be commencing their academic session tomorrow (today) did not have Ebola outbreak. The index case (Mr. Patrick Sawyer) landed in Lagos and not in these states. And I know that the teachers are afraid just like myself. My biggest fear is that nothing must happen to any resident of Lagos. I am not shy to say I am afraid".

Governor Fashola mentioned that whether there is Ebola or not, it is essential to make the schools safe for the teachers and pupils. 

He further went on to give a proposal that "the teachers, headmasters and principals should go to their various schools tomorrow (today) and sort out whatever is missing in the prescribed Ebola preventive facilities. So, We have to use from tomorrow (today) and the rest of the week to get the schools ready for the students.

And because of the Eid-il-Kabir festival that also falls within this time, rather than open and close the schools again for the festival, immediately after the festival, the schools will commence academic session on October 8".

Governor Fashola said that the state government ha awarded the contract to connect water to at least 800 schools in the state.

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Godwin Ibe

Medical Doctor (GP), IT professional, Web Designer, CELTA Certified Teacher of English, Economist and International Trade Marketer.

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