Educational institutions can reopen…

I salute the courage of governments around the globe; the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Delta State government for their efforts in the eradication of Covid-19. The whole of humankind could have been wiped out. Nations could have been wiped out. States could have been wiped out. My commendation extends to all Health workers across the globe and all mass communication workers; British Broadcasting Service (BBC), Community News Network (CNN), China Global Television Network (CGTN), Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) and Delta Broadcasting Service (DBS) to mention but a few. Our newspapers, including Pointer, played their role. But for them, we would still have been going about our lives in ignorance of this virus. Notwithstanding, we have a neighbour to contend with. We are landlords; we are landladies. We have other landlords or landladies beside us. We do not need to relocate from our houses because the landlord or landlady of the house beside us, is threatening us. This virus – Covid-19 seems to be aneighbour, who is going to live beside us or with us for a long time. It is a visitor we have to contend with. If we are giving way to this Covid-19, it means we have to give way for a long time – a year is short.

We have done enough sensitisation on the cares to be taken. Distancing, face masks, washing of hands with water and sanitising our hands. We have numerous testing centres, we have numerous isolation centres, we have quarantine centres. Our doctors and nurses and health workers have been retrained to deal with this new visitor.We have had such visitors in the past.  Hiv/Aids came; similar sensitization and mobilization were done. Hiv/Aids is still with us. Ebola came; similar sensitization was carried out. Ebola is still with us. Lassa fever came; it is still with us. Hiv/Aids is a sexually transmitted disease we were told. Our girls were told to zip-up. Our boys were told to avoid sex. If you must sex, use condom. There should be no kissing, there shouldbe no exchange of blood during blood transfusion, do not use one syringe for injecting more than one patient. For Ebola, we were told that it was a monkey and bat transmitted disease. Many of us gave up our much cherished bush meat.

For Lassa Fever, rats are the vectors or carriers. We saw different types of rat traps. Some were smeared with gum. It caught some rats, but the fat rats escaped. The pain relieving drug (indocid) was introduced. You mix it with bread. It is a good rat poison. It kills rats, but the odour of dead rats in your house can give you respiratory diseases. Many changed to the rat poison that dries up the rat without odour. We have contended with Hiv/Aids, we have contended with Ebola, we have contended with Lassa Fever. Life went on, while practicing the do’s and the don’ts to avoid these diseases. Workers went to work, businessmen and women went about their businesses, market women and men went about their livelihoods, our education institutions were not closed. Our primary, secondary schools were open. Our Polytechnics and Colleges of Education were open. Our universities were open. Our school children, students and the Adult students went about their studies, armed with health education gained during the various sensitization exercises of the Hiv/Aids, Ebola and Lassa Fever.

Our education institutions have remained closed for too long and if we go by the trend of this virus – Covid-19, our children will have to do away with formal learning. Those who were preparing for WAEC, NECO, Junior Secondary Certificate and First School Leaving Certificate (Primary Six) have over revised their work. They have over-learnt the syllabus, they are made to cover. The regular students without any certificate exams to write; have also been revising their work at home.

They are bored. Many of these children are on our streets. They are tired of isolating themselves at home. This virus – Covid-19 is a disease of the Elderly. Those affected from WUHAN and SHENGHAN – China are in the 60 to 70 to 80 years ranges. The same statistics revealed in Italy, Spain and Iran. Let the children go back to school, workers are beginning to go to work, businessmen and women are going about their businesses, market women are in the markers. Open our education institutions.

They can be run in shifts. Morning and Afternoon groups. Primary schools, Junior secondary in the morning shift. Senior secondary schools in the afternoon shifts. The tertiary institutions should do the same. “Behind every cloth, there is a silver lining”. Our schools have had enrollment explosion for years now. It is now to think of this morning and afternoon shifts and make it permanent. Our school heads and teachers should be advised to resume earlier to prepare the facilities for about two weeks (getting schools clean; fumigation, preparing their lesson time tables for these new shifts). The boarding houses may not be seriously affected with this shift. Our tertiary education institutions may not be seriously affected too. They should have been practicing this shift method in the past; in the use of the facilities. The children are bored. It is like rehearsing a play every day, with no opportunity to present the play. They are preparing for exams that are not forthcoming. They are all school-hungry. We do not want the repetition of the Almajiris situation. E-learning is goods for Adults. It should be complementary for children. The children cannot react naturally since there is no opportunity for gesturing; asking questions or answering questions. They cannot show their like or dislike of the subject or the method employed. In our policy on education on assessment; assessment is continuous.

Positive gestures answering of the questions are assessed and marks are awarded continuously through affective and psychomotor domains. E-learning is only cognitive, it does not give room for practicals. The children still have their natural immunity. They do not suffer diabetics, they do not have high blood pressure, they do not suffer stroke. Open the education institutions. Our schools are not for academics alone. There are also for skills and good behavior acquisition. Staying too long at home may lead to de-schooling. The little they have mastered may be forgotten or may be replaced by the bad ideas or concepts in the society or community which the school is required to change. They have enjoyed at home with their parents for too long, we may need to reorientate them to adapt to the pain of schooling again. The ministries of education should formulate a new school calendar or new academic schedules for this new term or session. Wear of nose mask should be part of school uniform.

  • Alexander is a public affairs analyst

 

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