Students of Tertiary Institutions across Nigeria have been in mixed reactions over the delayed school reopening amid a rise in COVID-19 cases in the country.
Recall some students under the aegis of National Association of Nigerian Students (NAN) on Wednesday, 19th August 2020 staged a protest in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, urging the Federal Government to reopen schools that were shut down as part of efforts to curtail further spread of the Coronavirus pandemic.
According to them, schools could not remain shut while markets and worship centres had been re-opened.
The protest was held both at the Unity Fountain and at the Ministry of Education, Abuja.
A student who identified herself as Edowaye Anita from Kogi State University, Anyigba, supported the reopening of school while describing the delay as injustice on students and lecturers.
“Enough is enough for the government who uses their power for oppression. This is injustice done to students and their teachers. How long will they suffer for those big belly politicians enriching themselves through COVID-19? Just imagine a lot of atrocities going on among these youngsters because of the idleness occasioned by the delayed school closure. It’s high time the government reopened our campuses.”
Collaborating the view above, a 200l student of Communication in KSU, Omopariola Nehemiah, said; “Education is our right, not a privilege. We are agitating for what belongs to us, and this protest is a warning message to the Nigeria government. We are tired of sitting down at home, the government should re-open our campuses.”
On the contrary, Ojone Solomon and Ikponke Iniobong are of the opinion that school should remain closed because their health is more important to them.
I don’t think school should resume because students’ lives are at risk. How can social distancing be achieved in school? Our ignorance should not allow us to cause more problems in our country. Cases are increasing every day and it is not safe for students. It is better for students to be at home than to be a school with the threat of COVID-19,” Solomon stated.
NANS President reacts
The President of the National Association of University Students, Ejigah Felix, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues, said schools have been closed for too long.
“How do you close our universities, polytechnics and other academic institutions and you are telling people that you want to stop the virus?
“Our demands are that our schools should be reopened.
“ASUU strikes have been lingering in this country for so long. Every time that government has an issue with ASUU, it is the students that are at the receiving end. Everybody who is in school for a four-year programme ends up spending six or more years.
“We want the government to find a way of addressing this and stop putting our generation at risk. Students are about wasting one year at home and this is not good for Nigerian students.”
A lecturer from the Federal University of Lokoja (FULOK) who spoke to our reporter on phone, Mallam Jubril, believed all other precautionary measures would follow the reopening of school, urging the government to reopen the Tertiary Institutions across the country.
“Majority are of the opinion that the school should resume. For me, the government should rather open the school now because this is just the right time. Every other precautionary measure would follow as soon as school reopens.”
On the other hand, the Director of Health Unit in Kogi State University, Dr Agbana Emmanuel, highlighted the health implications of reopening school now, calling on the students to exercise more patience with the Presidential Task Force.
“This is a national issue and it can’t be solved locally because there is a Presidential Task Force set up by the president that is collating the data of the number of cases and the pattern of spread. Currently, we’re getting good result now because the rate at which the number of cases is reported to have been reducing drastically. So, we need to be sure that community transmission is at a minimal level in order to avoid an explosion. The students should still exercise patience with the Presidential Task Force for them to resume in a safe environment,” he said.