By Egena Sunday Ode
The Federal Government has reiterated its position that it would not reopen the nation’s educational institutions shut down at the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic outbreak in the country.
It also said that the decision of the Federal Ministry of Education reversing its earlier decision to reopen schools for final year secondary school students still remained in force.
Recalled that the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, had last week told State House Correspondents that Nigerian schools would remain shut and secondary final year students would not write the West African Senior School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) until the Ministry considered it safe for such to happen.
He said his Ministry considered reopening schools and allowing academic activities, including writing examinations, to resume now as too risky, considering the increasing spread of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic in the country.
The Minister was emphatic that it would not matter if students lose a year of their study so long as the spread of the virus failed to abate.
This decision had been received with mixed reactions, mostly a huge outcry from a section of the population, including the National Assembly, which had called on President Muhammadu Buhari to prevail on the Ministry to rescind its position.
But speaking to State House Correspondents after the eighth virtual Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in Abuja on Wednesday, Minister of State for Education, Chief Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, said the position of the Ministry remained as earlier spelt out by Adamu Adamu last week.
However, he said the Ministry was still consulting with Education sector stakeholders on what the best position should be, adding that the West African Examination Council (WAEC) had also started consultations with West African states on the possibility of shifting dates.
“We are still meeting with parents over the decision of the Ministry. What the Minister said reflects the true position of the Ministry; we are not confident yet that everywhere is safe, the numbers from the NCDC are still alarming and we have put this before parents and all the stakeholders in the the Education ecosystem, we are still meeting with them. In fact, there’s a stakeholders’ meeting convened for Monday.
“WAEC on its own part is also negotiating with other West African countries to look at possible shift in date. Once they are through with that meeting and hopefully when we are through with the consultation with stakeholders, if there’s any change in the Ministry’s position, we will communicate, but as it stands, the position of the Honourable Minister, as communicated to you last week, remains the position of the Ministry until further evidence to the contrary or further agreements that may alter those arise”, Nwajiuba said.
Meanwhile, the Minister said the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved a memorandum presented by his Ministry for a contract worth N136 million, for the procurement of computers and seats for theatres in auditoriums at the University of Benin.