Partial compliance to the COVID-19 safety guidelines greeted the re-opening of schools in the Federal Capital Territory largely due to shortage of teachers, lack of funds on the part of private schools and weak enforcement, BusinessDay findings have revealed.
The federal government bowed to pressure and directed schools to re-open Tuesday, 4th August to enable students in exist classes take final examinations, which begins 17th August, on the condition that school owners must meet its guidelines that ensures learners and teachers are safe during accademic activities.
Some of these guidelines includes decongesting of classrooms, hostels to ensure safe distancing, installation of hand hygeine facilities and referall system to mange possible COVID-19 cases among others.
A visit to several schools in Abuja found that not all guidelines have been put in place or are thoroughly adhered to in most schools. Some public schools are yet to install hand hygeine facilities in the entire school as well as classrooms and hostels. There was partial compliance on wearing of face masks by both staff and students in most schools and enforcement of all the available guidelines was generally Ihough only exit students are allowed to resume, some school authorities lamented that the number of available teachers are grossly inadequate to comply with safe distancing measures. Abdulkarim Abdulrahaman, president of All Confederation of Principal of Secondary schools Abuja, said employment of more teachers is urgently needed.
Abdulrahaman, who is the principal of the government secondary school Kubwa, said, “In JSS3, I have 1150 students and I have about 39 classrooms, so the students would seat 30 per class to ensure social distancing. The challenges now is that we really need more teachers, the teachers are inadequate. Employment of teacher is our most Paramount need now.”
Similarly, a staff of Government Day Secondary School Abuja, who pleaded anonymity said the school could not comply fully with the social distancing measures maximally because there aren’t enough teachers even though there are enough structures to spread students.
According to her, there are over 430 students preparing for the final examinations and 30 students are expected to seat in each class.
She said though the school is still awaiting handwashing facilities, authorities have procured face masks to be distributed to all students. She added that closing hours will be extended to better prepare the students whithin two weeks.
Also, the proprietress a private school in Zuba, on her part complained that finances is a major challenge as most parents can’t meet up with school fees, to enable them run the school safely in the deadly COVID-19 pandemic
“School owners are not finding it easy, Money is a major challenge. Most of the parents are complaining of lack of money and might likely not meet up with school fees”, she said.
“Schools have been closed for months now, there have been no revenue, reopening will not be easy”, another proprietress added.
Meanwhile, accademic activities are yet to kick start in most schools visited. Some schools engaged their students in cleaning and sanitation activities. At the federal government Girls College in Bwari and other unity schools, students are mandated to pay school fees before resumption, the activities on the first day was dedicated to payment of fees and clearance of boarding students.
Findings also revealed that not all students resumed today, however, some students who spoke to Businesday expressed their excitement to resume accademic activities, but several others are worried that the time left to the commencement of the exams may not be enough for them to fully prepare.
” I was in shock when government announced resumption two weeks to WASSCE, I don’t think time is enough, I actually thought we are going to resume next year because of what the minister said, so I did not really study enough, but i am hopeful, i will do my best”, Chisom Uche told BusinessDay
A teacher in a private schools expressed concern that most of the students were prepared even for resumption and the time may be too short to prepare them for the exams.
Meanwhile, the Federal Capital Territory Administrations (FCTA) has carried out the fumigation of public Secondary Schools, as well as made available facemasks, hand sanitizers and infrared thermometers for use in the schools in the Territory.
The Chairman, FCT Secondary Education Board, Yahaya Muhammad, said the development is in compliance with the NCDC guidelines on the reopening of schools as well as the protocols set by the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19.
Muhammad stated that appointed representatives of the FCTA, alongside the principals of these schools are to ensure adequate compliance with all the health protocols, including the use of face masks, observance of social distancing as well as regular hand washing.
He also disclosed that the Department of Quality Assurance in the Education Secretariat would be visiting the private primary and secondary schools in the FCT to ensure that they comply with all the necessary protocols before they are allowed to reopen.
“I’m going personally to visit the schools to ensure that all the things that are supposed to be there are there and those that are not there, we will force them to comply before going on with the students”, Muhammad said.
The FCT Health Secretariat, Muhammad Kawu disclosed that the Health and Human Services Secretariat is also collaborating with the Education Secretariat for the training of teachers on the non-pharmaceutical means of preventing COVID-19.
The items donated include 770 infrared thermometers, 1200 surgical face masks, 14,000 pieces of various types of fabric face masks, 18,000 500ml hand sanitizers.
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