The federal government of Nigeria has disclosed that negotiations are on-going with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and other stakeholders on how to safely reopen tertiary institutions in the country.
The Minister of State for Education, Hon. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, who made this known on Monday during the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefing also appealed to Nigerian students to exercise more patience while necessary details for reopening schools are being worked out.
Naija News recalls ASUU has been on strike since March 2020 and recently declared that its members will not return to the classrooms except the government meets its demands.
Shortly after ASUU began its strike action, the federal government was also forced to shut down tertiary institutions across the country so as to curb further spread of the coronavirus infection.
However, after months of staying at home, students, parents, and guardians have started clamoring for schools to be reopened.
Giving an update on resumption plans, the Minister of State for Education noted on Monday that the government has not picked a specific date for the reopening of higher institutions of learning in the country but negotiations and reviews are ongoing.
He added that students will only be allowed to resume when all COVID-19 protocols and guidelines necessary to guarantee the safety of students when they eventually resume is in place.
Nwajiuba said: “Really there’s been a lot of improvements. However, what we have done and pursuing reopening, we have presented to all the tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
“We are positive that the time is almost around the corner. But we don’t want to bandy around dates but we remain positive and the sooner you can get that the better.
“So I urge our students who have actually excised a lot of patience along with their parents because I know even my own children they are beginning to think they’ve had enough of me and I understand that.
“I urge you to just bear with us a little bit more. We are in full negotiation with ASUU and every player is engaged on how to reopen the schools.”
“You just don’t only look at all the 200 or so universities and colleges of education, polytechnics and a lot of other colleges, Nursing, colleges of the agriculture, and several others nearly over 600 of them,” he said.
The Minister added that he joined the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, Executive Secretary of National Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Abubakar Rasheed, and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Arc. Sonny Echono earlier on Monday to review responses from about 78 universities already.
He stated that the outcome of the review will be presented to the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and other stakeholders for consideration before any decision can be taken on the reopening of schools.
He said: “Most of them are private universities who are already insistent that they are ready to go and many public universities are not ready yet. From the states owned universities, we have 50/50 response and so we are walking to upscale that and make sure that everybody actually is ready to go.
“When all of this is put in context and back to PTF, with all these eggheads you see here from NCDC and all the various players in the PTF family will then review it so that we can give a go-ahead for reopening of tertiary institutions and other levels of education.”