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Published On: Wed, Sep 10th, 2014

Ebola and school reopening debate

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EbolaBy Umar Lamido Abubakar

In late July, Ebola, a killer virus, registered its presence in Nigeria, but the government took the situation less seriously than it should have despite knowing the consequences of the deadly virus. When it became clear that Mr. Patrick Sawyer who was responsible for smuggling the deadly virus to Nigeria spread the virus to some fellow Nigerians amid yet another unfortunate situation of doctors being on nationwide strike, lots of things started making their ways to my mind about the possible solution for this deadly virus albeit not reaching any conclusive and acceptable thinking solution.

Though the diplomat died as a result of Ebola virus, concerns have been raised about what will happen to the families and relatives of those Nigerians who passed on as a result of Ebola as well as the other fellow Nigerians who are at risk of contracting the deadly virus. No wonder people started incubating different theories such as salt-and-hot-water drink/bath solution all in an effort to protect themselves and curtail its further spread.Alas! Ebola virus has presently become as popular as even my primary 3 younger sister is seriously concerned about it simply because of the extension of schools holiday to October 13th 2014 before it was revised to September 22nd 2014. The announcement of the holiday extension issued by the federal government caught many people unaware as preparations was already at the top gear for parents and pupils to start the new academic year most probably September 1st 2014. Private schools proprietors can be considered to be the most hit by the holiday extension to length that they took to the media advocating against the said education cum business cripple decision. Even tertiary institutions were not left out of the sanction in view of the postponement/cancellation of some academic activities such as academic workshops and international conferences till further notice. The big question here is: does Nigeria education sector deserve such a decision in view of the long slumber the sector has been experiencing?I don’t believe that this measure will bear a positive impact to the situation of education in the country. Hence, Ebola will not let Nigeria education sector wake up from that long slumber.

The most recent unfortunate justification of this was the just released West African Examination Council (WAEC) the May/June 2014 Senior Secondary School Certificate result which statistically shows a mass failure of which over 69 percent of the candidates who sat for the examination failed English language and Mathematics, which means more than 60 percent secondary school graduates are not eligible for admission into Nigerian universities.Another horrific situation was that of the basic education which the UNICEF’s 2013 end-of-year report put as the worst in terms of quality and impact the world over. Yet, Ebola is here to worsen the situation or rather give it a final dead blow. Also affected was a part of the mandatory NYSC orientation course for graduates which were cancelled. Instead the stream B of the Batch B corps were expected to just visit their respective camps, register their names and proceed to their prospective places of primary assignment. This means a lot to graduates, even though some have already passed the normal procedure of camp life.

Although the Federal government has already imposed state of emergency in the health sector, this is not enough. Other sectors in the economy should also be utilized for the sake of curtailing the Ebola mugu. For instance, more educational schemes against the disease should be introduced in our primary and secondary schools instead of closing them up. Our tertiary institutions and mass media should also be incorporated in the scheme so as to accord a holistic and long-term measure toward eradicating the virus in the country. More awareness campaigns to sensitize the public on the right measures against the Ebola should be intensified rather than leaving the airwaves for the in scrupulous elements to keep on spreading more deadly solutions as remedy to the Ebola virus the sort of salt-and-hot-water solution which claimed the lives of a significant number of innocent hypertensic Nigerians in their effort to escape death from Ebola.

There should be more surveillance and most importantly government’s seriousness/dedication to the issue which will guarantee the success of the fight against Ebola to a very large extent.

Umar Lamido Abubakar is a L400 student of Mass Communication, BUK.


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