The Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU) has again kicked against the reopening of schools, warning the federal government not to gamble with the lives of poor Nigerians.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on Monday approved the reopening of schools for graduating classes.

Biodun Ogunyemi, ASUU president, had at about the same time, asked the federal government to address challenges facing the education sector before it can talk of reopening schools.

On Wednesday, Ogunyemi, while featuring on Channels TV’s programme ‘Sunrise Daily’, also cautioned the federal government not to gamble with the health of its citizens.

He warned that some government-run schools, who are expected to reopen, lack fences and other vital mechanisms to prevent and manage any potential outbreak among the students.

“What we are trying to do now is a crash model – an experimental approach. We want to experiment with the lives of poor Nigerians – children of the poor,” he said.

“Many of us in my bracket, maybe middle class, our children don’t fall into that category. And that is probably why we cannot appreciate why we need to do the basic minimum.

“Are we saying that we should open schools without decontaminating the schools? For a government that could go openly to decontaminate streets, to decontaminate markets?

“Are lives in the schools not as valuable as those on the streets? We need to do the basic minimum. It’s not about income for teachers or workers here. It’s about what we need to avert disaster.”

”We are not seeing any concrete steps being taken about meeting their own (FG’s) conditions. The timing is there but if they (government) say they are convinced, we hold them to that.

“We have seen other places where they are opening schools and we have also seen other places where they are even delaying opening schools till August and September.

“Nigeria should not take a gamble with the health of its citizens, That’s why we are warning that if they believe that they’re convinced, we’ll hold them to that but let them meet their own conditions.

“These public schools they are talking about many of them are without fences. How do they monitor children coming into the schools? How much of COVID-19 prevention do they have?”

However, Sani Aliyu, the coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, hedged that reopening of schools for graduating pupils is imperative as their exams are being set by external bodies.

“We have a large number of students that are in the exit classes and they need to move on. These are not exams that are specific only to Nigeria but Africa – the WAEC exams,” Aliyu explained.

“We need to find a way to safely get these students to write their exams and move on. Otherwise, we will have a serious spillover when it comes to education.”

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