Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, parents and other stakeholders have expressed divergent views on the decision by the Federal Government to postpone the resumption date of all primary and secondary schools nationwide till October 13 following the recent outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease, EVD, in the country.
While some stakeholders believe that the move will restrict the spread of the disease, others argue that prolonged stay at home will do more harm than good.
Parents who spoke to Vanguard unanimously agreed that keeping children away from schools for the time being was the right move.
One of such parents, Mrs. Chinyere Chidiadi, said: “We all know how easy it is for children to contract the virus because of their frequent hand and body contact with each other. Extending the holidays would at least give the appropriate agency more time to eradicate or prevent further spread of the virus.”
In the same vein, Mrs. Tarelade Adefe, said before the official extension, she had made up her mind that her children would not resume school till the virus was under control.
According to her, “It is the safest thing to do for now because I doubt if there are any serious measures put in place by these schools to protect our children. We had already made up our minds that our children would not resume school yet till we are sure that the spread is under control. You can’t tell young children to be careful and what guarantee is there that some exposed persons won’t come around them?”
Another parent, Mrs. Ede Jakande said: “It is a very good decision because my parents are with me and my son is not exposed to playmates, but if school is open he will meet other children from other backgrounds and that is risky. It is best schools are shut because the health of my boy is important. Education is nothing compared to my child’s life.”
Similarly, Mrs. Ifeoma Ekawhare, a parent in Abuja, said: “Presently children are better off at home unsupervised, than dead with Ebola. It is not permanent; it is just till the appropriate authorities can curb the disease. It is better off this way.”
However, speaking, President of Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, Mr. Michael Alogba, told Vanguard that “asking schools to close down will not solve the problem, there is not a cure for the disease yet, and the rate of spread is very high. We must avail ourselves of all the sensitization efforts being made by the government and other agencies. But postponing resumption alone will jeopardise our results, affects the time table and reduces the rate of achievements in education.’
On her part, Proprietress of Wise Generation Schools, Lagos, Mrs. Peace Ogar, said: ”The disease is not only limited to the Children. It cuts across all ages, nation and communities. The issue of ensuring that it does not spread by postponing resumption of school children should be reconsidered. The same children we want to protect will still be with their parents who will go to work, meet people and come back home to meet the same children. Children would also attend church and other social activities, so it doesn’t really solve anything. Besides, the public transport is available for all and everyone boards either motor bike or cab from one place to another. We don’t know who actually may be a victim or a carrier.
”If we say children should not go to school because we want to curtail that, what consideration does government has to address the aforementioned issues?”
Similarly, Mrs. Durodola Adigun, also an educationist, said “the move will curb the virus from spreading. Children staying at home will reduce the rate of mixing up in the school. Children can only mixed up with few friends in the neighbourhood which parents can control. But at school, parents and teachers will not be able to control the crowd. Be it in nursery, daycare, crèche, teachers cannot control them.”
The Proprietress, Danpraise Private Schools, Ikorodu, Mrs Bernice Omobola Adams, said “Parents are in the best position to take proper care of their children. Staying at home will ensure their safety than allowing them to be in school where we have few teachers taken care of large crowd.”