How prepared are we for resumption of schools?

THE recent announcement by the federal government of the partial resumption of schools for final year pupils in primary six and final-year secondary students of JS3 and SS3 respectively, came as a welcome development and prayer answered for several anxious parents and concerned students and pupils who had been eager to sit for their final year external examination that would qualify them to the next level of their academic careers. The concerns and anxieties of these groups of persons are justified bearing in mind the seemingly unending scourge of the coronavirus pandemic that has been ravaging the world. For fear of contracting the disease, the education sector, like every other sector, has grounded to a halt; and populations have been under various degrees of lockdown, all in an attempt to avoid contracting this disease that does not seem to be in a hurry to go. Parents and concerned students therefore heaved a sigh of relief when announcement was made of the impending resumption of final year pupils and students to enable them sit for their external examinations.

Plausible and laudable as this arrangement seems, however, the big question is: how prepared are we to get our dear children back to school to sit for their final examinations? Are the necessary facilities on ground in our primary and secondary schools to cater for and guarantee the safeties of the lives of pupils, students and their teachers that will be expected to resume school very soon? We can learn from the experiences of others: Ghana attempted to resume school, and the result was not pleasant. Given the scenario in the medical sector where medical personnel with their expertise and protective kits are falling victims to this murderous disease, how reasonable is it to push or expose our innocent, naïve and very vulnerable children and their helpless teachers to the jaws of this killer virus that is no respecter of persons? Yes, the arrangement is to enable these final-year pupils and students to write their final examination because time is running out! But is the reason worth staking the lives of our darling children and their dear teachers on? Time is made and meant for the convenience of human beings and this time can therefore always be adjusted to meet man’s needs; and not for man to become enslaved to it. What I am saying in essence is that these examinations can be shifted to a time when this pandemic is over and healthy enough for our children and their teachers to resume studies.

Other arrangements like giving automatic promotions to other students or extending the lesson periods to make up for lost time occasioned by the strange virus after this pandemic is over can also be considered.  True, overzealous parents and students will cry foul over my suggestions above because to them, the children have already lost grounds and are eager for them to go to the next level of their education! Do you doubt this? Many parents are guilty of giving their children accelerated promotions against the advice of educationists by jumping them from one class to the other so that they can finish school on time. Hence, it is no longer a surprise to see children between the ages of 16 and 18 years already serving the nation in their National Youth Service or even working in ministries as graduates! This phenomenon is another issue for discussion at another forum.  This current situation when we have a pandemic to grapple with calls for restraint and caution. The health of our children should be paramount, not the time they will finish their studies. Health, they say is wealth, so no sacrifice should be too much to make in order to realize this objective.

My experience as a teacher has taught me that our children will grow to realize their destinies as planned by God and at His own time, irrespective of the efforts put in by eager parents to shorten their children’s course of studies. They should always remember the saying that the labourer labours in vain if the Lord does not build the house. It is so with the education or upbringing of our children. Our children will become what they have been destined to become at God’s own time! If we are guided by this principle, we will learn to wait on God. Finally, I wish to advise that necessary facilities should be put in place in the various academic institutions before we stampede our precious children and their beloved teachers back to their classrooms amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.  Better still, let the schools resume when it is safest for them to do so. In the interim, the governments should create the enabling environment for e-learning to take place to keep the children abreast of their studies while remaining at home till it is safe for them to resume school. To this end, improving the power supply system in the country and ensuring better internet facilities that are highly subsidized, will go a long way to enhance the efficacy of this online learning that many state governments and private schools are already keying into to keep their students busy at the comforts of their homes. May the Lord bless our children and our efforts at training them.

  • Adebija is a teacher based in Kogi State.

 

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