Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government has pledged not to endanger children by opening schools.
Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba, said this while replying to a question during the daily briefing by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 pandemic.
President Muhammadu Buhari had announced a gradual lockdown relaxation in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Lagos and Ogun States.
But Nwajiuba said there was no date yet for schools in the country to resume.
He also clarified that the West African Examinations Council has not cancelled its external exams as students will still have to go and take those exams when the government was sure to have taken good care of the pupils.
He explained that the Federal Ministry of Education could not foresee or give any date when schools would be resuming in the country.
“The president actually addressed the issue of the opening of the economy gradually. Until that is done, we can’t foresee or immediately tell you when all the schools will be reopened. It will not be proper for us to simply give you a date. It has to be in tandem with these opening terms. We don’t want to put our children at risk. None of these schools can function on their own without the society.
“On the question of children promoting to the next class, those exams will happen when we are satisfied that the children have learnt what is enough for them to move. For those who are in the exit classes of junior basic and senior secondary schools, we are preparing them and will continue to.
“This will go on until we are sure that they are equipped for the external examinations. The West African Examinations Council has not cancelled their external exams. It was postponed indefinitely. This indefinite nature is so that we can get a definite date. Students will still have to go and take those exams when we are sure that we have taken good care of the pupils.”
Meanwhile, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has said the 15-member medical team from China who recently completed their compulsory 14-day quarantine have all tested negative for the COVID-19 virus.
He also said the Committee of Experts, which will be sworn in later is headed by Professor Oyewale Tomori, a renowned virologist and that other members will be revealed at the swearing in.
The minister had said the Chinese medical experts will be providing technical support to Nigeria in its fight against COVID-19, and also sharing experiential strategies of how their country curtailed the spread of the virus.
“As for the Chinese persons who came in, the test has been done after they were quarantined for 14 days. All of them were negative. After that, the Federal Ministry of Health is done with that particular case.
“The Ministry of Health has up a ministerial expert advisory committee, made up of eminent Nigerian virologists, public health experts, infectious disease and diagnostic experts and others, to study the evolution and development of the COVID-19 outbreak and the responses in Nigeria.
“The committee will advise on the national strategy and action plan, using lessons learned as we go along, and those learned from strategies in places across the globe. This will help us to identify and adopt the promising strategies and align our plans with best practices and advisories.”
On security at the isolation centres, he said: “I can say quite happily and proudly that the Nigerian Army has agreed to support isolation centres with security as the need arises. So, we shall be applying for their support in situations where we need security for all our patients and also for those who are awaiting results who have been tested.”