By Segun Awofadeji
As schools in the country gradually reopen, the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), in colloboration with the Federal Ministry of Education, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), has developed a school reopening template as part of efforts to ensure that safety measures are put in place as laid down by NCDC for the reopening of schools.
The Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, who stated this in a keynote address at the Zonal Stakeholders Dialogue on School Reopening Readiness for School Resumption, held at the Zaranda Hotel, Bauchi, recalled that the closure of schools was part of government’s strategy to curtail the spread of the virus, as the school environment was considered to be vertible grounds to spread the virus.
Represented by a director in the ministry, Mr. Asanbe O.F, the minister said the ministry considered it expedient to hold a stakeholders dialogue on safe school readiness, taking place simultaneously in the six geographical zones across the country, adding that the readiness template requires the full engagement of all stakeholders which is considered for successful implementation.
“The closure and the ease down period, particularly as regards the closure of schools, have lasted for seven months. Generally, through the concerted efforts of governments at all levels, there is a cautious belief and understanding that the pandemic curve has started flattening. This news provides the impetus for hope that things are getting better. Regrettably, learners have lost a lot of grounds as far as education is concerned.
“It is on this premise that we are all here to deliberate and adopt the template for the safe re-opening of schools and learning facilities. The template has some key roles and shared responsibilities to be played by the stakeholders at national, state, local government and at the school levels,” he said.
In his goodwill message, the UNICEF Chief of Field Office, Bauchi, Mr. Bhanu Pathak stated that since the closure of schools across the 36 states as a result of COVID-19, millions of school children and their staff at all levels are currently staying at home, adding that not only are they missing out on education which is a fundamental human right, children are exposed to more risk of education setbacks such as examination failure and have been uprooted from their schools where they have been taught and sensitised on COVID-19 prevention.
“As the curve of the pandemic begins to flatten, there is the need to make plans on the reopening of schools and ensure that safety preventive measures are put in place as laid down by the NCDC guidelines for the reopening of schools. This resulted in our gathering here today to share the school reopening readiness template with stakeholders for further review during which all stakeholders will look at the template and make objective contributions to ensure inclusiveness of all concerned.
“To achieve the objective of ensuring a safe return to school, all efforts must focus on the following, safety operations: Adopt minimum standards that promote healthy behaviour school environments and operations for prevention of COVID-19 in schools in line with NCDC. Ensure schools have protective environment and set up a screening point for temperature screening including hand hygiene facility at the entrance of school and other strategic places, availability of wash facilities such as buckets and soap, hand sanitizer in compliance with NCDC protocols in all schools,” he said.
Writing Non Judgmentally
If you feel pensive about writing progress reports, you are not alone. It is a time consuming and stressful task for teachers and departmental leads. There is no doubt that it is an emotionally intense experience that in many ways mirrors your own mentorship effectiveness. To do it well, a teacher must do a serious evaluation of the staff’s or student’s work, his performances and then synthesize her observations into information that is useful to the subject, his parents and relevant others.
Some teachers feel that the purpose of a report card is to provide a snapshot of a student’s academic and social skills. Others view it more seriously and realise that whilst writing the report, they are capturing a snippet in someone’s history for the parent, for the school, and for the next teacher (college or institution) who might need it.
The following points are tips that you may find useful for writing your next report:
Do not write narratives, keep your writing brief.
You need to know what information to collect for a report card. Start from day one of the students in your class to get to know them and collect all round data on them. You will usually not be the only one imputing into their lives, keep an eye on what other relevant teachers know of their performances, attitudes and behavior.
Gain clarity from: your head-teacher, principal or administrator, model reports and from other relevant teachers. Check your school’s assessment philosophy; peruse models of excellent reports written by other teachers in a similar class or subject area.
Know precisely what you are assessing. Is it progress in comparison to the student’s previous work or is it an evaluation of his work in comparison to his class or dormitory mates? Are you grading effort, ability, regression or degeneration? Each of these states has ‘politically correct’ ways of feeding back in writing.
Get organised! Get the school’s academic calendar and start early to collect the tools you’d use to make your evaluation such as test results, students’ self-assessment, other teachers’ appraisals and your own impressions.
Other sources to help you comment objectively are recorded students’ involvements and contribution to extra-curricular activities and house performances.
You may want to set up an assessment system early. This is critical to successfully writing your comments. You cannot afford to assess on the spot as this is likely to be guess work, un-substantiated statements and damaging to students’ characters.
Choose your words carefully. You cannot sum up a human being in a box that’s only a couple of inches wide and deep! It is important to write judiciously whether or not you’re writing sparingly.
Be proactive; do not wait for report card time to deliver any bad news. Most parents would appreciate knowing the situation – good, bad or ugly, early. That way, they cooperate with you to shape their child early and so are prepared emotionally to read the report card.
Communicating well with parents before and after the report card is very important. Parent-teachers’ conferences can help to facilitate this. Establish a professional rapport with parents on these occasions.
Create a personalised or individualised ‘Progress Tracking Record System’. This would embody any concern you have about the student, your target behaviors, ways you would support the student to achieve them and time scales in which you propose to achieve changes in student behavior. Intimate your head-teacher, the student and the parents of this ‘care-planning’ effort and obtain their consent to use this tool. This record should be accessible to the student and should be kept confidential.
No matter what, always remember that you are writing about someone’s child, someone whose parent(s) love, someone whose unconditional acqceptance to another school may depend on what you write and lastly someone you’ve only known for a small fraction of their lives.
Omoru writes from the UK