On the 19th of March, 2020, the Federal Ministry of Education ordered for the immediate closure of all schools in the federation in order to protect the children from contracting COVID-19. Many schools were still in session when this directive came; in fact all schools were still in session at that time. However, some schools have started their examination before this circular was passed. In any case, most students and pupils have not yet completed their second term for the 2019/2020 session.
The directive from the Federal Ministry of Education was immediately adhered to. Schools were closed down with the hope that COVID-19 will soon pass by so that life will go back to normal. Well, as we all know, days turn to weeks and weeks become months. By the end of the day, our students in all levels of academic pursuit stayed at home, doing close to nothing academically, for six months now. And the number of months is still counting, hence the purpose of this essay.
During the lockdown, some private schools in Nigeria decided to keep their students “busy” and also earn some money out of it. These schools used different virtual methods to “teach” their students and give them exams. However, one thing nobody could tell was what will happen when schools finally resume. Some people said that schools will go back to finish up their second term and hurry up the third term. Others said that second term will be waived so that students will start up third term activities. They were all speculation because no one knows what the Federal Ministry of Education will say. There was this amount of trust people had in the ministry because it was strongly believed that the “experts” there would make some adjustments to time tables and curriculums so that students won’t miss much when they go back to school. No one, except maybe those up there, expected this confusion that students and their parents are facing today.
According to BBC news (Pidgin) of 4th September, 2020, the National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr. Sani Aliyu, on Thursday 3rd September, 2020, announced that reopening of schools is at the discretion of state governments and school administrators. In fact, according to the BBC, Dr. Sani Aliyu instructed that school administrators and state governments should prepare to reopen schools. He didn’t actually tell them to reopen schools. If you ask me, I will say that he indirectly told schools that wish to reopen that they are “on their own”. His directive is filled with ambiguities.
From what BBC news (Pidgin) revealed, a lot of private universities are still waiting for the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 to give them the go-ahead to reopen. They have been ready to resume long ago but they don’t know when they should do that. Right now, these schools don’t know if they should wait for the Federal Ministry of Education, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, or the state government to give them the go ahead to reopen or if they should just call their students back to school since they are ready to do so.
Another confusion I am seeing is that some students in some states are going to school while those in other states stay at home. For instance, Anambra State will reopen schools fully on Monday 14th September, 2020, while Enugu State is yet to say anything. These students, though from different states, will still sit for the same external exams, such as WAEC and NECO, at the same time. My question here is why won’t the Federal Ministry of Education give schools directives to resume at the same time just the way it directed them to close simultaneously?
Another major problem facing our education system right now is the session/term these students are going into. I learnt that pupils in exit primary classes are beginning to write common entrance examinations and that some are preparing for First School Leaving Certificate Examination. I don’t know what these stand for but I hope it does not mean that students in secondary schools will be pushed up the next classes. Primary schools can do that because the pupils will still meet what they missed in their next class, even though it will be at a little higher level. But once a student misses a topic in secondary school, he has missed it. I hope our experts in the Federal Ministry of Education will bear that in mind as they look the other way while our system gets dragged in the mud.