COVID-19: UNICEF, FG organise stakeholders’ dialogue on safe school resumption


By Awayi Kuje
Akwanga (Nasarawa State), Sept. 23, 2020 The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in colloboration with the Federal Ministry of Education, has organised a stakeholders’ dialogue to review the template on school reopening towards having a minimum standard for safe return to schools in the country.

Mrs. Azuka Menkiti, Education Specialist, UNICEF, Abuja, while speaking on Wednesday at a Zonal Stakeholders’ Dialogue School Re-Opening Readiness in Akwanga, Nasarawa State, said the meeting was in the interest of the students, teachers and other stakeholders for the development of the country.

Menkiti said that the dialogue was aimed at sharing and reviewing school reopening readiness template and to get the views of stakeholders and their support towards school reopening.

She said, “Because of COVID-19, schools were close for a long time and now a lot of stakeholders feel that it is time for school reopening and for children to get back to school.

“It is in view of this and in preparation that UNICEF is collaborating with the Federal Ministry of Education to organise this Stakeholders’ Dialogue School Re-Opening Readiness.

“We are here specifically to share and review the draft school reopening readiness template as adapted from the school reopening guidelines.

“To agree on expected roles and responsibilities at all levels of education governance towards safe return to school.

“To commit to minimum expectations and standards for safe return to school and to agree on best decisions in learning recovery upon school resumption.

“And to share good practices and adapt into a nationally acceptable integrated approach to safe school reopening.”

The UNICEF education specialist solicited the support of traditional rulers, education experts and stakeholders toward achieving the aim of the dialogue.
“At the end of the dialogue, there shall be concensus on school readiness minimum standards for resumption, commitment on safe school reopening, state plans on an integrated approach to school reopening.
“There shall be collective agreement on key responsibilities for safe school reopening, “she added.
In his remarks, the Minister of State for Education, ChukwuEmeka Nwajiuba, said that the decision to close schools was part of government’s strategy to curtail the spread of the pandemic as the school environments were considered to be veritable ground to spread the virus.
Nwajiuba, who was represented by the Ministry’s Director of Curriculum and Pedagogy, Mrs Charity Ogar, said the ministry had developed the safe school readiness template for an integrated approach to safe school reopening which comes with many lessons.
“The template requires the full engagement of all stakeholders which is considered a sine qua non for successful implementation.
“We are all here to deliberate and adopt the template for the safe reopening of schools and learning facilities.
“The template has some key roles and shared responsibilities to be played by the stakeholders at National, State, LGA and the school levels,”he said.
The minister urged the participants to critique the template assiduously for the benefit of the Nigerian school child.
Alhji Yahaya Abubakar, the Etsu Nupe, lauded the Federal government and UNICEF for organising the dialogue aimed at ensuring safe school reopening.
Abubakar, represented by Alhaji Andullahi Yawa, the Galadima Makarantan Nupe, assured of participants’ positive contributions during the meeting.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the dialogue had in attendance Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), School Base Management Committee (SBMC), National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS), Parents Teachers Association (PTA), traditional rulers, among others from the North Central zone.

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