The federal government says any decision to reopen schools at this time, considering the number of COVID-19 cases recorded across states, would be insensitive.
Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, minister of state for education, stated this in response to a question on the decision of Oyo state to allow schools resume.
The Oyo government had announced that primary six pupils and students in junior and senior secondary schools three can resume on June 29, 2020.
Speaking at the presidential task force (PTF) on COVID-19 briefing in Abuja on Monday, Nwajiuba said such decision contradicts the federal government’s position on the resumption of schools.
“The ministry of education did not give any guideline to Oyo state to reopen schools. We also think that that is a little bit contradictory,” he said.
“However, Oyo state, like all other sub-nationals, have governors and under our constitution, governors are responsible for their states.
“But you must appreciate that the primary purpose of government is the security of its citizens. Security is not only when people start shooting guns at you; public health is key and primary in that primary security delivery.
“And that’s why we are extremely cautious in making any pronouncement around this because the education sector owns the largest number of infrastructure in the country.
“For you to even begin to decide to unroll and unleash this in the public in the face of a pandemic, is, to be the very least, insensitive.”
He said the country has not reached the stage of optimal testing and as such, government “cannot even forecast where this epidemic or pandemic is most positioned at”.
“So the least we can do at the moment is to keep our children, our most prized assets, the future of Nigeria, under lock and key first. When we are sure that it’s safe to release them, gladly we will,” he added.
Nwajiuba appealed to parents to remain patient on the reopening of schools, stating that “we don’t want any of our children arriving at doctors’ clinics at all.”
Meanwhile, as of June 21, 2020, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Oyo state has recorded 912 confirmed cases, out of which 621 are active, 282 persons have been discharged, and nine deaths have occurred.
Across the country, there are 20,244 confirmed COVID-19 cases, out of which 12,847 are active cases, 6,879 persons have recovered, and 518 deaths have been recorded.
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