Civil Society Action Coalition on Education for All (CSACEFA) has held a dialogue in collaboration with other Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) such as Malala Fund, Plan International, Action Aid Nigeria, Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) as well as other major stakeholders in education sector in Nigeria on the best ways to scale up support for Covid 19 safety guidelines in fast-tracking re-opening of schools.

The virtual dialogue which took place via zoom yesterday had various CSOs stakeholders shared the positive impacts of their various interventions, action plans and responses since Covid19 pandemic lockdown began in March this year, leading to the closure of schools nationwide.

National Moderator, CSACEFA, Kabiru Aliyu highlighting the importance of the dialogue based on how Covid 19 has adversely affected the progress within the education sector said there is need for stakeholder to synergize in order to mitigate its negative effects on teachers and students and work out modalities to ensure that learning continues without interruption.

“This dialogue has become imperative for all stakeholders in education sector to form synergy in working out modalities and actionable plans, one of which would be grassroots mobilization and sensitization by the CSOs” he remarked.

Speaking at the dialogue, Dr Judith Giwa-Amu, National Coordinator, Education Emergency Working Group (EEWG) and Representation of United Nations Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) emphasised the need for more collaboration and engagement with Nigeria Center For Disease Control (NCDC) for appropriate targeted training for the teachers across the 36 states on Infection Prevention Control (IPC) Courses in enhancing their preparedness for the re-opening of schools.

“I would like us to understand that NCDC is well informed on safety guidelines as they are guided by medical science – evidence based. therefore, currently, there is ongoing plans by NCDC in collaboration UNICEF and UBEC on targeted training for the teachers on IPC courses to build their capacity on Covid 19 Safety guidelines towards school re-opening” she stated.

While sharing the interventions and responses of her Working Group since the school closure began four months ago, Giwa-Amu stated that EEWG which is fully approved by the Federal Ministry of Education have been working towards the development of education radio programme for the underserved and rural communities in Sokoto and Kano states so as to ensure that access to quality education by average Nigerian child is attainable.

Malala Fund Representative, Femi Aderibigbe while speaking during the dialogue highlighted the importance of “Learning from Home School Programme and Free Online Platforms as part of Malala Fund’s immediate response and Intervention.

This, he said would reduce the possible impacts of long absence from school and ensure that learning continues in spite of the school closure.

Aderibigbe however, stressed the need to keep prioritising girl child education while schools remain closed due to Covid 19.

According to him, “With 60% of Nigerian girls already out of school, I would like to further emphasize that a gender-responsive plan underpins the success of Nigeria’s educational and economic future. Research has shown that girls face far more barriers to education than boys — to remedy this, there must be systematic and resourced planning to ensure that girls return to school post-pandemic”.

He further categorised the ongoing interventions from government and development partners across the country into 3Rs as follows:
○ RESPONSE – Government measures so that girls can keep learning during school closures
○ RECOVERY – Gender-responsive plans so girls can return to school and continuous finance flow into education systems, ensuring it benefits girls and boys equally
○ RESILIENCE – Building back better with gender at the centre.

He added that monitoring mechanism must set up to monitor whether girls are given priority in most of the underserved and rural communities where they are high propensity for Child marriages and child labour.

PLAN International Representative at the dialogue, Believe Eke shared his Organization’s education intervention programmes since Covid19 school closure began.

According to him, our interventions have been targeted at the North East States. We began with sensitising the communities people in observing all the Covid 19 safety guidelines for proper hygiene”

“Currently, we are in partnership with UNICEF and State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) to organize and distribute radio transistor for our volunteer Teachers to teach these out of school children in most underserved communities.

“We have introduced a learning method called “Reading Circle” and supplied learning materials. All these would enhance the students learning capabilities towards re-opening of schools, he said.

Representative of NUT at the dialogue, Ikpitibo Clinton stated for learning to fully continue uninterrupted there would be need for teachers to resume back to school and for that to happen health and Safety of both the teachers and students are to be prioritized.

He added that Home based learning can never serve its purpose in a country where larger percentage of the citizens live in an underserved and rural communities with no access to either electricity or internet facilities.

“Reason why home based learning can never solve the problem of learning while schools remain closed is that larger percentage of those in underserved communities are being left out” he said.

Clinton further expressed deep concerns about vague promises by Federal Government of Supporting Loan Scheme for Private School Owners to pay the Salaries of their Teachers as a big ruse.

“Federal Government’s promise to the Private school owners was just a ruse as the loans are not accessible”

“Nigeria have always had brilliant policies for Education but the implementation is always a problem” he remarked.

Second phase of the dialogue has been scheduled to hold next week.

By Dotun Roy

DotunRoy.com is a development driven news website with the overall goal of amplifying, promoting and advocating for positive societal change through Sustainable Development advocacy in line with UN SDGs components such as education, environmental sustainability and Climate Change, Human Rights, health, finance, housing, good governance as well as security in Nigeria and across the world.

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