The Nigerian Bar Association, Ibadan Branch, has advised Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State to rescind his directive on the resumption of pupils and students in Primary 6, Junior Secondary School Class 3 and Senior Secondary School Class 3 for academic activities on Monday, 29 June 2020.
The association through its Chairman, Oluwole Akintayo and the Secretary, Akeem Okelola said though the rationale for the resumption of the above categories of students is to enhance their preparation for forthcoming state and national examinations, they advised the governor to realise that the state had recorded 575 confirmed cases of Covid-19, 242 recoveries and 7 deaths.”
“We must state that the comparatively low figures above are due to the mercy of God and are direct consequences of the proactive steps taken by the State Government to curb the spread of the deadly disease”.
”The new directive for the resumption of pupils in final classes in primary, junior secondary and senior secondary schools is predicated on the assumption that in the next two weeks Covid-19 would have been eliminated or reduced to the barest level. This may be a very ambitious expectation.”
“The Government of Oyo State has in the past year invested heavily in education and it is of utmost importance that this huge investment is complemented by policies that focus on the best interest of children”.
“It is our considered view, and judicial authorities have confirmed this position by recognizing the presumption, that children are naturally playful. One may be demanding too much from them to observe necessary safety precautions to prevent the spread of Covid-19.”
“Regrettably, some of our adult citizens still carry on their activities as if Covid-19 does not exist. In this context, we have not laid down good examples for our children to emulate”.
” Despite the efforts put in place by the government, particularly the protocols regarding social distancing and use of face mask, the majority of our citizens do not adhere to these protocols. Even our transporters ignore safety measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19. It is our considered view that opening our schools at this time may create a veritable avenue for community spread of this infectious disease.”
“There are instances of spikes in infection rates in some countries as a direct result of the premature resumption of schools. In Western Cape Province, South Africa, 98 teachers, 1800 students tested positive for Covid-19 almost two weeks after school resumption. Three weeks after Israel reopened the doors to all its schools, 347 pupils and teachers tested positive. These are territories that have better health infrastructure than we do in Nigeria.”
“While it is desirable that our children, particularly those in the final classes of their present programme, prepare adequately for the state and external examinations they are to write in the nearest future, the immediate concern of Government and all stakeholders should be to secure the constitutional right of our children to live as well as their rights to survival and development “.
They argued that it is only children who are alive and in sound health that can sit and pass examinations.
“It is only through these healthy children the investment of government and parents and guardians will not be wasted”, the NBA stated.