The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Monday kicked against the reopening of schools by the Federal Government due to the COVID-19 pandemic currently ravaging the country.
Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, ASUU National President, spoke with the with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ota, Ogun.
According to him, the Federal Government needed to address the challenges of education sector before it can talk of reopening schools.
Ogunyemi urged the Federal Government to provide ideal environment and should take the lead by meeting the conditions spelt out by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) before reopening schools.
“The Federal Government must lead and show the ways by meeting the conditions for reopening of schools before any school can be allowed to open, because COVID-19 pandemic is a health challenge.
“When it comes to public health, it is something that should not be left in the hands of individual, but the Federal Government must take the lead,’’ he said.
The ASUU president listed the conditions spelt out by NCDC to include: provision of materials for regular washing of hands, face mask, isolations centres, space for social distancing and hands sanitiser.
Ogunyemi said that many of the schools do not have financial capacities to meet those conditions and requirements for reopening of schools.
“It is suicidal to reopen schools now, if the Federal Government itself could not meet the conditions spelt out by NCDC and World Health Organisation (WHO).
“The nation will expose the innocent children to risks which is avoidable,” he said.
Ogunyemi noted that how many of these schools could afford to provide hand sanitiser, saying that many of them do not even have running water, not to talk of having facility for washing hands.
He added that many schools do not have enough spaces to promote physical distancing.
The ASUU president said that putting all these requirements needed together, to reopen schools in the country now would run to millions of Naira, which most schools could not afford.
Ogunyemi appealed to the Federal Government to provide the running funds for the principals and head teachers so that they could provide some of these facilities in their schools.
He further said that inadequate funds by many parents would hinder them from providing some of these amenities needed for reopening of schools.
Ogunyemi said that the Federal Government needed to tell Nigerians the steps they intended to take in reopening schools.
The ASUU leader said that for government not to tell people their minds was like running away from “our shadow” which would later hunt the country.