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Covid-19: UN cautions Nigeria over reopening of schools

The United Nations has called for caution to ensure safety protocols against the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria.

The global agency made the call against the directive by some state governments over the resumption of school activities. It said over 46 million primary and secondary pupils across the country are affected due to pandemic-related school closures.

The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Edward Kallon, said in a statement in commemoration of the World International Day to Protect Education from Attack that safety in schools for pupils and teachers are paramount.

Against the background of the theme, which was “Protect Education, Save a Generation”, he said government’s commitment to protecting investments in the education sector and a validation of Nigeria’s endorsement of the Safe Schools Declaration should be ensured.

According to him, “As State Governments plan to reopen schools after prolonged closures, building a resilient education system to withstand future shocks should be included in pandemic response plans. Education is essential to helping crisis-affected communities in the north-east rebuild and recover. Attacks on schools are a direct attack on future generations.

“I call on all parties to the conflict to take all necessary measures to protect education and give learners a chance to build a brighter future.”

Last week government directed school administrators to communicate with parents and students for the full reopening of schools, following the COVID-19 induced lockdown.

In July, the government directed the reopening of schools for exiting students who are currently sitting for the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).

However, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) had criticised the plans to reopen schools saying no plans had been made to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

In his remarks, the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, said safeguarding education from attack is urgently needed to restore confidence in schools as places of protection for children and teachers.

He said, “As the world fights to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, children and youth in conflict zones remain among the most vulnerable to its devastating impact.

“We must ensure our children have a safe and secure environment in which to learn the knowledge and skills they need for the future.

“The UN vehemently condemn any and all attacks on education, including abductions of school children, school-related gender-based violence, herders-farmers clashes, and repurposing of schools for use as isolation centres, IDP camps, markets or for military purposes.”


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