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Schools to Create Isolation Centres As Criteria for Reopening

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The stringent conditions for the reopening of schools contained in the guidelines submitted to the National Assembly by the Federal Ministry of Education, may force some schools to close down their operations.

The document, obtained by our correspondents is titled, “Guidelines for schools and learning facilities reopening after COVID-19 pandemic closure.”

According to the document, each school is required to create temporary isolation space and fully equipped clinics before reopening.

They are also to establish a referral system, including protocols and procedures to take if learners, teachers, administrators and other education personnel become unwell while in school.

Apart from that, the Federal Government in the document, mandated any state wishing to reopen schools to hold adequate consultations  with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and the parents.

The guidelines also require school proprietors to construct additional structures and employ more teachers to ensure that they accommodate their pupils by adhering to the two-metre spacing system in classrooms.

Proprietors of schools have also been asked to seek grants to procure soap and buckets, ensure regular safe water supply, ensure constant supply of learning and instructional materials and pay salaries on time.

The Federal Ministry of Education had presented to the National Assembly, a detailed proposal on its plan to reopen schools across the country.

The Minister of State for Education, Mr Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, appeared before the Senate Committee on Basic and Secondary Education on Tuesday, but refused to give details of the proposal.

The PUNCH however, obtained a copy of the document, on Wednesday.

According to the ministry, reopening of schools demands that sufficient provisions, including infrastructure, equipment and expertise, be available in the schools as stipulated in the guidelines.

The guidelines, it said, were to ensure maximum possible safety and protection against COVlD-19 infection, and effective response if anyone exhibits symptoms associated with COVID-19 Infection.

The document read “It is equally crucial that consultations are held and communication exchanged with parents, teachers, learners and communities to understand and address common concerns.”

To observe safe distancing in schools and other learning facilities, the document recommends that students are to stay two metres apart according to the NCDC’s public advice. The ministry, however, cited exceptional cases.

It said, “However, there are exceptions where the two-metres rule cannot be reasonably applied and other risk mitigation strategies may be adopted.

“Examples include early years, younger primary school children and those with additional needs.

“In these circumstances, risk assessments must be undertaken with the best interests of the learners, teachers and other education personnel in mind.

“The scenarios require organising learners and children into small groups with consistent membership and compliance to the two-metres safe distancing guideline.

“The membership of these groups should not change unless the NCDC public health guideline suggests otherwise. The safety and hygiene measures outlined in this document should, as in all cases, be followed carefully. It is imperative that safe distancing between adult staff working with such groups be maintained.”

The government also proposed alternative learning models for safe distancing.

They include outdoor learning, which the ministry said could limit transmission and allow safe distancing between learners and teachers.

“The use of shelter outdoors is necessary for the protection and safety of learners and teachers. In addition, safety in all weathers and security measures is required for each location,” it said.

The ministry also suggested staggered attendance where learners may arrive and depart at different times to avoid overcrowding, adding that schools might reopen gradually, starting with particular grade levels.

The government also proposed “platooning” where classes may be divided into morning and afternoon shifts and “decreased interaction where students may remain in one location’ with teachers coming to them.

Others on the list are flexible schedule and creative delivery.

The guidelines read, “A gradual and phased reopening can then be considered while prioritising learners who are vulnerable, have reduced access to distance learning modalities, and/or are in examination classes.

“This would help assess the readiness of schools and learning facilities to reopen fully to all learners. In addition, this would serve to minimise the risk of resurgence of coronavirus infections.”

The government listed the steps and actions to be taken before schools and learning facilities could be reopened.

They include a review of existing policies, practices and risk mitigation strategies in the use of schools for other purposes, such as distance learning centres, temporary shelters and isolation, among others

They also include staggered use of school facilities to ensure compliance with the NCDC guidelines, and development and dissemination of safe school reopening checklist to assist appropriate evidence-based decisions to reopen schools.

Other conditions are “disinfection and fumigation of facilities, including hostel accommodation, with particular attention given to those used as temporary isolation and treatment centres and for other purposes during the pandemic.

“Sensitise, train and build capacity of teachers, administrators and other education personnel to effectively use and comply with the School COVID-19 Referral System and protocols for safe distancing and hygiene in schools.

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New IGP Retains Mba, Owohunwa As FPRO, PSO, Appoints Inuwa As Force Secretary

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The Inspector General of Police, Ag. IGP Usman Alkali Baba, NPM, psc (+), fdc, has approved the posting of AIG Hafiz Inuwa, mni as the Force Secretary and member of the Force Management Team. The IGP also approved the re-appointment of CP Frank Mba and Ag. CP Idowu Owohunwa as the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO) and Principal Staff Officer (PSO) to the IGP respectively.

The new Force Secretary, AIG Hafiz Inuwa, mni takes over from AIG Mustapha Dandaura who has been redeployed to Zone-7 Police Headquarters, Abuja. AIG Hafiz Inuwa holds a Masters degree in Public Policy and Administration (MPPA). Prior to his appointment as the Force Secretary, he was the Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of Zone-13 Ukpo -Dunukofia in Awka, Anambra State, covering Anambra and Enugu State Police Commands. He also previously served as the Commissioner of Police in charge of Delta and Cross River States, amongst other strategic positions. He is a member of the prestigious National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPPS), Kuru, Jos.

CP Frank Mba, a lawyer and a member of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), is also an alumnus of the University of Dundee, Scotland – United Kingdom, where he earned a Master’s Degree in Law. An IVLP scholar, he holds a Diploma in Police Strategic Management from the University of Virginia, USA and a graduate of the prestigious FBI National Academy (FBINA) in Quantico, Virginia, USA. He also holds a Certificate in National and International Security from Harvard University, USA. A veteran Public Relations (PR) practitioner, he is being re-appointed as the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO) and the Image-maker for the Nigeria Police Force for the third time.

Ag. CP Idowu Owohunwa, the newly re-appointed Principal Staff Officer to the Inspector General of Police (PSO-IGP), holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice Studies and Policing from the University of Leeds, United Kingdom. A Chevening Scholar, Ag. CP Owohunwa also holds a Diploma in Police Strategic Management at the University of Virginia, USA and a graduate of the globally recognized FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia, USA. Ag. CP Owohunwa was the PSO-IGP between 2015 and 2016, and to the immediate past Inspector General of Police. This re-appointment marks the third time he is holding the position as the Principal Staff Officer to the Inspector-General of Police.

In a similar vein, the IGP has ordered the posting of the following officers; CSP Idris Abdullahi Abubakar as the PSO II to the IGP, SP Isah Abdulhamid as PA-IGP, SP Nura Kabir Hanga as Secretary – IGP, amongst other personal aides.

The Senior Police Officers are expected to bring their professional and intellectual exposure to bear in assisting the IGP and his Management Team in developing/implementing strategic policing policies and plans, all directed at stabilizing internal security, modernizing police operations and restoring police primacy in the protection of lives and property of citizens.

The appointments/postings of the Senior Officers and personal aides take immediate effect.

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Queen Elizabeth II’s Husband, Prince Philip Has Died

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Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth II’s husband and the longest-serving consort of any British monarch, has died at age 99.

A statement posted on the royal family’s website Friday morning said: “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

“His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle. Further announcements will made in due course. The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss.”

Philip spent 65 years supporting the queen, retiring from his public role in 2017 and staying largely out of the view since. In his active years, he helped set a new course for the monarchy under a young queen, championing Britain itself, as well as environmental causes, science and technology.

Philip’s relationship with the young Princess Elizabeth began as a story of young love.

“We behave as though we had belonged to each other for years,” Elizabeth wrote in a letter to her parents shortly after they married.

Over the years, the queen acknowledged Philip’s deep influence on her, calling him her “strength and stay” in a speech on their 50th wedding anniversary in 1997.

“I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim or we shall ever know,” she said at the time.

The intensely private prince will likely be remembered for his early efforts to help modernize the royal family’s image during a time of great change for Britain and the world, especially at the outset of Elizabeth’s reign in 1952. He also developed a reputation for the occasional brusque comment and crass, if not racist jokes.

“The queen inherited from her father a model of monarchy that was very hands off, old-fashioned and slightly invisible,” said Sarah Gristwood, a historian and the author of “Elizabeth: The Queen and the Crown.”

“It wasn’t equipped to deal with a new media age, and Prince Philip played a huge role in moving it forward then.”

Philip helped bring the royals to life on television rather than through radio reports. He was the first member of the royal family to do a televised interview and he presented a show on a royal tour of the Commonwealth. He is also said to have had a hand in televising the queen’s coronation in 1953 and in organizing a groundbreaking 1969 television documentary about the family.

Courtesy: Nbcnews

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The Efik Queen is Right About Post-COVID Democracy – Here’s Why

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Joel Popoola

As the leader of a campaign to modernise democracy in Nigerian, I might be expected not to agree too much with one of our nation’s countless local monarchs – institutions many Nigerians believe to be an archaic and outdated relic of a bygone era.

But a recent interview with the Queen of Efik contained some interesting thoughts about how our democratic processes should adapt to the post-Covid world which really struck a chord with me.

In an interview with the BBC, the Queen argues that democratic bodies should continue to hold meetings remotely – even after the end of social distancing and restrictions on movement necessitated by the coronavirus crisis.

The Queen combines her role with a day job in Lagos, returning to Calabar for council meetings which have always required members to be physically present.

COVID-19 has made this requirement impossible, and meetings have been convened online for much of the past year. The queen argues that council members should be able attend meetings remotely even after the end of the current crisis.

One of the few positives of the past twelve months has been the rapid uptake of digital technology from people who used to say they “didn’t do computers”. This can be very positive for our democracy, and here are five reasons why I believe the Queen is right.

1. Remote meetings can make political bodies look more like Nigeria

Our political class is overwhelmingly made up of men over fifty, which can make it seem out of touch and irrelevant to the huge swathes of our population who are not. And I say that as a man over fifty!

A significant reason for this is that working age Nigerians and those with caring commitments – the majority of whom are women – are unable to take on the additional commitments of political office. Not requiring them to travel, take time off from work or make alternative childcare commitments every time they need to attend a meeting, when they could just as easily attend from home or work, is a simple step we can take to bring about a more representative political class.

2.Remote meetings mean that politics will not just be done, but be seen to have been done.

Many Nigerians do not see that the majority of their local leaders are motivated by public service and a love of their communities, because they do not see them at all. Making more public meetings digital makes is much easier for members of the public to attend them using their mobile phones – or at a time that suits them if these meetings are recorded and streamed.

3. Remote meetings improve transparency

Likewise, there can be no claims of shady backroom deals and stitch-ups if a recording of the political process is recorded for posterity and made available permanently. Remote meeting technology makes this process incredibly simple.

4. Remote meetings are good for recognition

Like it or not, may Nigerians simply have no idea who their local leaders are. Remote meetings make it a lot easier for electors to identify their elected representatives, and to see them in action.

5. Remote meetings enhance accountability

Many local councils have a public question time, allowing local people to put their questions directly to decision makers. But the need to take time off from work and other commitments to travel to meetings to take advantage of this system renders is practically useless for many Nigerians. Again, being able to take advantage of this system from their comfort of their home or workplace strengthens accountability.

Another interesting argument made by the Queen of Efik is that traditional kings and queens are simply closer to the people than elected representatives due to their longstanding personal networks.

This is certainly an area local politicians need to work on, and at the digital democracy campaign I lead we have set out to provide them with the technology that enables the rapid development of those networks and relationships.

We created a free smartphone app called Rate Your Leader to allow elected officials to interact directly with confirmed voters in the divisions they serve.

Rate Your Leader  (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rateyourleader.voter2 )”  allows politicians and people can engage person-to-person, understanding each other’s needs and positions, communicating as peers, and collaborating as equals to make their communities better. Our abuse-proof technology ensures that conversations are always courteous and civil.

And Rate Your Leader even lets voters rate their politicians for their transparency and accessibility.

As the Queen points out, Nigerians are “very happy when people send them money online or by phone” – so why don’t we use that same technology to revitalise our democracy?

Joel Popoola is a Nigerian tech entrepreneur, digital democracy campaigner and creator of the Rate Your Leader app. Follow Joel on Twitter @JOPopoola

 

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