Covid-19: Niger Prepares for Total Reopening of Schools

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By Laleye Dipo

The Niger State Government has said that it is preparing for the total reopening of schools throughout the state.

Governor Abubakar Sani Bello, who disclosed this on Thursday at the inauguration of an ultra-modern administrative building of the state chapter of the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), did not give details of the planned reopening of the schools that have been closed since March, this year, as a result of the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, some public schools have been reopened since August 10, for students in exit classes to enable them sit for the West African School Certificate and the National Examination Council ongoing tests.

Governor Bello, who was represented at the event by the Commissioner for Education, Hajia Hannatu Jibrin Salihu, said the government’s overall target for education “is to ensure the creation of a functional and sustainable system that supports the development of character and learning for the socio-economic development of the state”.

To achieve the objective, Bello said: “Deliberate empowerment of teachers is a priority to us since we cannot raise the quality of students without standardising the quality of those who are to impart the knowledge in our students at all levels of our educational system.

“We have been able to recruit additional qualified teachers, renovated some schools under the Whole School Development Approach and established the Teachers Professional Development Agency.”

The governor stated that the administration will continue to be consistent in responding to the plight of teachers “as we look into other fringe benefits”.

The state Chairman of the NUT, Mr. Ibrahim Umar, in an address, asked the state government to implement the N30,000 minimum wage and adjustment for primary school teachers.

He also kicked against the delay in the payment of salaries to teachers insisting that: “Teachers must be paid as and when due like their counterparts.”

The National President of the NUT, Dr Nasir Idris, said the union “is working round the clock towards the realization of 65 years retirement age for our teachers in primary and secondary schools”.

The inauguration was carried out in compliance with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) guidelines including washing of hands and sanitising and wearing of masks.