Nigerian lecturers oppose reopening schools, sitting exams amid COVID-19 surge

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FILE PHOTO: A placard of the Engravers’ College in Kaduna, northern Nigeria. (Photo by STR / AFP)

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), an umbrella union for lecturers in Nigeria, joined forces with 19 states in the country’s north in opposing the re-opening of schools and the administration of examinations amid a surge in COVID-19 cases in the country.

Last month, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation Boss Mustapha said universities, high schools and secondary schools will reopen so final-year students can prepare for exams.

However, ASUU national president Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi said the lecturers would not hesitate to do their part to ensure the safety of the lives of Nigerian children and all Nigerians even if it meant closing schools until 2021.

The lecturers opposing the reopening of schools come from more than 115 federal and State universities.

The 19 northern states had also said that they would only have schools re-opened when it was safe to do so.

“If they need to cancel admission for the year, it is good for them. Life matters first, people must have life first before they can go to university. Are the universities ready to work now? Our position is that they should not experiment with the lives of our children. Nobody can tell; the situation may soon normalise and they can do their exams and there is another opportunity for external candidates around November. So, it’s not as if the door is totally closed,” Ogunyemi said.

The ASUU also opposed a proposal to have the West African Senior School Certificate Examination sat in August. ASUU, instead, threw its weight behind the decision to cancel the exams.

Former Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubakar is one of the leaders who opposed the cancellation of the exams saying it was “not in Nigeria’s best interest.” Abubakar mooted having “staggered examinations with a different set of questions for each shift.”

As of July 20, Nigeria has recorded more than 37,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and just over 800 fatalities.

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