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.
FirstBank Partners LSETF to Fund Low-Cost Private Schools in Lagos at Attractive Interest Rate
First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s premier and leading financial inclusion services provider, has announced its partnership with Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) in a matching fund scheme. The scheme aims to cushion the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on low-cost private schools by ensuring lending at an attractive interest rate.
The programme will provide access to finance where participating schools can each be availed up to N5 million as well as capacity development, business and financial advisory. There will be monitoring and evaluation to ensure prompt loan repayment.
To enjoy this funding opportunity, applications will be submitted via the LSETF portal for screening while successful applicants will be passed on to FirstBank for the loan appraisal and disbursement process. The loan is meant for working capital and asset finance to enable schools resuscitate their practice, acquire needed materials, upgrade their facilities, as well as pay staff salaries in order to bounce back, especially after the lockdown.
This scheme promotes entrepreneurship in Lagos State which is in tandem with the vision of LSETF to create employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for Lagos residents. It has provisions for Micro Enterprises (ME) and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) across all the 57 LCDAs in the 20 LGAs in Lagos State.
Sanwo-Olu, the Executive Governor of Lagos State said the N5 billion Education Loan Programme was a precursor to many more human development sector-specific support programmes that would be unveiled by the LSETF on behalf of the State Government next month.
The Governor explained that the intervention was necessary, given the importance of education to building human capital. He said his administration took education as critical building 21st century economy and realising objectives set out in the T.H.E.M.E.S. agenda.
The beneficiaries, Sanwo-Olu said, will have access to single-digit loan facilities to fund the provision of the amenities and services needed to aid learning.
He said: “It is thus heart-warming to have First Bank of Nigeria electing to be our exemplary partner for this intervention. With their support, players in the education sector would be getting the financial support they need to boost learning at a single-digit interest rate.
“I also commend the Board of LSETF and the management for this significant accomplishment. They have helped the Lagos State Government build an institution that has engendered public trust and elevated the hope of small businesses and young people, irrespective of challenges faced.”
According to Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, Chief Executive Officer, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, “at FirstBank we recognise the indelible role played by the education sector in the growth of any economy and this underscores our partnership with Lagos State Government for continuous development of the education services in Lagos State and the nation as a whole. The commitment by the Lagos State Government – including this partnership – to enable schools is quite commendable as this will mitigate the challenges caused by the lockdown on the education sector following the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“With the single-digit funding targeted at about 2,000 low-cost private schools in the State, we are delighted at this opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to the development of education in Lagos State, thereby contributing our quota to further the mandate of the Lagos State Government – in partnership with LSETF – on economic growth, enhanced opportunities for employment and bridging societal gaps in education,” he concluded.
Commenting on the Eduloan programme, Mrs Bola Adesola, Chairperson, Board of Trustees, Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) stated that “According to the NESG the Education Sector remains a growth area for job creation and a report on job creation by the NBS states that the Education Sector is one of the top 5 sectors that created over 59m jobs in 2019. This fact is buttressed by the data collected by LSETF in previous loan programmes. The objective of the LSETF-FirstEdu loan is to create employment, improve the quality of education for our youth by providing access to affordable finance to low-cost private schools and vocational training centres.
“We are confident that this intervention fund, which is complemented by our free professional and institutional support structures, will ensure that the education ecosystem in Lagos State will witness an improvement in the overall learning outcomes for our children, while positively impacting on the Lagos local economy through wealth and job creation.,” she stated.
Only recently, FirstBank partnered with the Lagos State government, Robert & John, IBM and Curious Learning with a resolve to enable the education of 1 million Nigerian students through innovative eLearning solutions that will drive sustainable efforts towards improving education for all. As part of the partnership, the Bank donated 20,000 units of e-learning devices to the Lagos State government.
These partnerships reinforce FirstBank’s “You First” brand promise of putting not just its customers first but also the economy of its host communities.
Uduaghan Dumps APC, Returns to PDP
Electoral College Appoints Rate Your Leader Founder, Joel Popoola As Member, Board of Directors
By Eric Elezuo
The Electoral College, Nigeria, has appointed the Founder, Rate Your Leader, Mr Joel Popoola, into its board of trustees as director to oversee International Mobilisation.
Popoola’s appointment was contained in two letters addressed to the technology entrepreneur and digital democracy campaigner as well as the board members of the college and signed by its Executive Director, Mr Kunle Lawal.
The Electoral College observed that the democracy campaigner, who has made headlines in recent times with reference to his technological innovations and writeups has been a great ally of the college while expressing utmost happiness and pride to have him on the board of the College.
“We are sure the board would be proud with the impact he can bring,” Kunle Lawal noted.
While expressing the best wishes of the College, and acknowledging that Popoola’s appointment is with immediate effect, Mr Lawal added that the award winning techpreneur is ‘valued as an asset addition and most of all for his love for country (Nigeria).’
“I look forward to a mutually beneficial relationship between us all and the expansion of the college,” Lawal stressed.
Responding to his appointment, Popoola noted that the reward for hard work is more work, stressing that the appointment is not just a recognition of his efforts, but an opportunity to do a lot more for humanity.
“I see the appointment to the board of Nigerian Electoral College as not just a recognition of efforts, but an opportunity to do a lot more to raise the bars of the Nigeria’s electoral system and serve humanity for the good,” he said.
It would be recalled that Mr. Popoola was earlier in the month welcomed on board of the UK Tech Nation Founders’ Network as a full fledged member.
Among many other honours trailing his humble contributions to the digitalization of democratic process around the world, he is an advance member of the Institute of Directors Great Britain & Northern Ireland, and a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
Also appointed is Hakeem Condotti, a well seasoned entrepreneur and African player in business and diplomacy. He would serve as Director: External Relations.