The Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba, who spoke before the planned reopening of schools, revealed that some parents already engage their children in street trading after the closure of schools due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In a TV broadcast on Wednesday evening, the Minister assured parents and teachers that the federal government had taken appropriate measures to ensure the safe reopening of schools for outgoing students.
Nwajiuba, who insisted that the re-admission of students in Primary 6, JSS 3 and SSS 3 is not subject to coercion, said the decision was taken so that these students could have a short review before their promotion exams, as not all of them have access to technology or equipment for online learning.
“We understand the limitations of the Nigerians. Most people cannot afford laptops and equipment, and we know that not all our children have equal access.
And if there are people who have that access and who are sure that their children are ready for those exams, no one is forcing anyone to go to any school.
“What we have done is to make the facilities of our schools available Each school should have places to wash hands, to constantly check the temperature of the children and to use disinfectants.
Private schools should be able to provide these and also the state governments. The federal government owns just 104 unit schools.
“So, it’s really not a constraint; we’re just providing the facilities for the purpose of taking the exams for those who want to take them.
But it is not a responsible act of government to say then, because there are some people who may not want to take the exams, that we should not provide the facilities for those who may want to because life is a continuous journey of choices and our children have been at home.
“We have registered 1.5 million children for WAEC this year and we know that the internet penetration for this group is less than 300,000.
So it will be the height of injustice not to make these facilities available to others for learning.
“We know that the children are at home at the moment; they mingle with their parents, with friends or with those who go to the market and come back or those who go to mosques or churches.
They do all kinds of activities.
Those who are doing well could afford to let their children keep watching TV, but some use their children as peddlers – we lose people we try to get back to school, and if we don’t do something about it, we simply lose all the children altogether, and you will not be able to get them back to school at some point”.