Schools closure in the North

In the light of the emergence of the coronavirus and its resultant casualties in human, economy and other social variables, governments and establishments continue to take tough precautionary measures and decisive actions. Some have shut their borders; others have banned public gathering; yet some others have closed down offices and schools. ‘Work from home,’ the people are instructed.

Nigeria is not to be left out in the trend. After recording some cases, governments across the board have remained unsettled. The Federal Government suspended the National Sports Festival 2020, halted an ongoing NYSC orientation course, suspended flights from high-risk states, warned its officials against travels and of course advised the public against unnecessary gathering.

State governments too are not sleeping on it. Schools in Lagos were shut from Monday, March 23, 2020. In the same vein, Niger, Kwara and northwestern governors met on March 8 to discuss issues bordering on security and the novel covid-19. Resolutions were reached. One of them was that schools would be shut from Monday, March 23, 2020. This decision, in view of the rapid spread of the diseases in the world, is laudable. If you ask me, however, it is putting the cart before the horse.

In the press release issued by the governors, though sensitization programmes exist therein, it’s obvious that primacy is accorded to shutting down of schools before sensitisation programmes. Economists would say the first item on the list is the dearest in the scale of preference to the individual.

I am not in any way saying that schools should not be shut down, but some things must be gotten right and put in place first. Truth is that the pandemic in Nigeria had not been recorded at all in the northern part of the country when schools were closed. This means that there was still time (even if a week or three days) to conduct statewide sensitisation campaign on coronavirus.

Ask an average Sokoto inhabitant what coronavirus is, he does not know. These are people living in the heart of the city, not to talk of people dwelling in the rural area. An average man on the streets of Katsina does not know what coronavirus is, let alone the precautionary measures to be taken. I am talking from experience. I have conducted some haphazard studies, and I know the result I got.

Therefore, the governments of the northern states should have thought of how to make the schools a medium of educating, sensitizing the students on covid-19 (what it is; how it spreads and the preventive strategies) before schools were shut.

What is the essence of shutting down the schools when the students do not know what they are closed down for in the first place and are not equipped with necessary knowledge about covid-19?

This sensitization campaign should be taken very seriously because most of our brothers here in the North have nonchalant attitudes in relation to health and personal hygiene.

Abdullah Abdulganiy

Sokoto State.

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