The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has called the federal government not to reopen tertiary institutions across the country until 2021 to ensure adequate preparations before reopening.
Schools have been closed since March 23, 2020 in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that entered the country in February.
TheCable had reported on Friday that the federal government is in talks with the West African Examination Council (WAEC) on a new date for the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) earlier scheduled to begin on August 4, 2020.
Biodun Ogunyemi, president of ASUU, told The Punch in an interview that government shouldn’t take such chances unless parents sign an undertaking.
“Look, Kenya has said they have closed all their schools till next year. They too have exams to write; safety first. If it means closing the schools until next year to safeguard the lives of Nigerian children and safeguard the health of all Nigerians, so be it,” Ogunyemi said.
“So, if that will help us to address cases that can lead to increase in mortality, I think Nigerians should go that way and all of us should see reason for it.
“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 added that ASUU has not seen any evidence to show that there are adequate safety measures in place for students to resume.
“The first thing that should be tackled is whether schools are safe. And if the schools are not safe, why do you want to carry out an experiment with the lives of our children?” he queried.
“An attempt to send back the children to school at a time there is a spike in COVID-19 cases in Nigeria is like experimenting with the lives of our children.
“If they put all the things in place, including social and physical distancing, sanitisers, kitting the children as we see in other places, decontamination with water flowing in the schools and all the gadgets, why not?
“So, if government can meet all these conditions, then they can reopen the schools. But if they cannot meet all these conditions, they should not experiment with even 10 students in any school.”