COVID-19: Niger weighing risks of reopening schools

NIGER State government says it is still weighing carefully the risks of reopening schools and putting in place strategies based on existing situations to ensure maximum safety of students and staff in schools.

The Commissioner for Educational, Hajiya Hannatu Jibrin Salihu, stated this on Tuesday at the COVID-19 Response Inter-sectoral Stakeholders’ meeting held at the Justice Legbo Kutigi Hall, Minna.

She added that the post-COVID-19 response has multiple inter-connected dimensions.

“The Ministry of Education recognises and continuously appreciates the frontline role of inter-agency synergy, collaborations and partnership in putting modalities for creating a safe teaching and learning environment in our educational institutions,” she said.

She noted that given the scope of the educational impact of COVID- 19, the ministry responded swiftly with COVID-19 education contingency plan, with its robust conception and implementation to get children engaged through distance learning programmes in radio stations across the state.

“Our radio educational programme focuses on remediating what children lost and keeps them engaged while at home,” she said, adding  that the state government is investing resources in distance education programme, while also keeping close watch on post-COVID-19 era.

She said the focus of the ministry post-COVID-19 is to maximise the potential of schools to provide facilities and support for quality learning and protection for their pupils and students.

“Last week, a critical stakeholders’ meeting in the education sector and international development partners, especially UNICEF, assembled here (Justice Legbo Kutigi Hall) to interact and brainstorm on the modalities and processes to ensure adequate preparedness and readiness of schools for safe reopening and resumption of academic and other ancillary activities without placing the health, safety and security of learners, teachers, education managers and practitioners in jeopardy,” she said.

She said the ministry would leverage on the experience of the inter-sectoral stakeholders’ expertise and network to move forward on meeting the Federal Government’s guidelines on school reopening.

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