*urges govt to ensure adherence to COVID-19 protocols
By; BAYO AKAMO, Ibadan
The Academic Staff Union of Universities, (ASUU) on Sunday asked the Federal Government not to rush into reopening schools in the country.
Chairman University of Ibadan ASUU, Professor Ayo Akinwole declared that for government to consider reopening of schools, it must ensure that all the schools meet up with the COVID-19 precautionary guidelines.
In ensuring this, the ASUU Chairman stressed that government must take responsibility for schools to meet the COVID-19 precautionary guidelines, saying, those leading the agitation for re-opening of schools are private schools due to the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on them.
“Must we endanger the lives of our children for pecuniary gains? Are these agitations not borne out of protecting their business interests? COVID-19 is still very much with us. It is in recognition of this fact that the government itself has rolled out certain conditions to be met before schools are re-opened” he said..
Professor Akinwole added, “how many of our public institutions can confidently vouch for the safety of our children given the available facilities such as: provision of running water for hand washing; social distancing among students; the use of recommended face masks and shields, which are key components of NCDC protocols?
“A situation where a room meant for four now houses twenty students cannot be said to be social-distancing compliant.What we are is simply saying is that the Federal government should adhere to their own set guidelines. Our position, as a responsible Union on all these is that; throwing schools open in the midst of all these, is an open invitation to tragic explosion of the COVID-19 scourge on a scale never witnessed anywhere since its outbreak! When this happens, Nigerians will not say that they were never warned.”
According to ASUU, there was no basis for the rushing as “no percuniary gains is more than the lives of lecturers and their students”.
“Our Union notes that there have been agitations from some quarters on the government to re-open schools. Leading this campaign are the proprietors of private Universities. ASUU is not in any way opposed to this call. However, Nigerians should honestly interrogate this position. Has the Nigerian government met the NCDC criteria on COVID 19 protocols in our institutions? “.
Speaking further, the ASUU Chairman maintained that before COVID-19, public varsities are overcrowded with students while hostel facilities take more than its capacity.
Cautioning parents not to jubilate at the news of possible reopening of schools, Professor Akinwole stressed that parents should rather ask government to take responsibility for whatever surge in COVID-19 that may happen as a result of ill-thought out re-opening.
He lamented that while National Assembly members can afford to observe social distancing in the National Assembly complex, “the same is not possible with overcrowded classrooms due to the wickedness of the ruling class not to properly fund public education”.