COVID-19 may renew mass illiteracy in Nigeria, Africa – Aremu
…urges FG to declare teachers front line workers
By Ibrahim HassanWuyo
A former Governorship candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in Kwara State and Labor leader, Comrade Issa Aremu has said that if measures were not put in place urgently, there might be renewed worsening mass illiteracy in Nigeria and Africa due to the COVID-19 pandemic
“One of the eased lockdown measures as directed by the Federal government should be on the education sector,” he said.
Arewa said in a statement on Saturday that it was time the Federal government focus on all sectors impact of Coronavirus pandemic which had claimed 200 lives and ruined many livelihoods.
He called for an “immediate impact assessment” of the lock down on education.
According to him,” before the pandemic, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) indicated that the population of out of school children in Nigeria has risen from 10.5 million to 13.2 million, the highest in the world.”
He observed that not less than 120,000,000 children and students are currently out of school in West Africa, mostly from Nigeria, adding that if measures are not in place urgently, there might be renewed worsening mass illiteracy in Nigeria and Africa.
“One of the eased lockdown measures as directed by the Federal government should be on the education sector”.
He said while the official focus had been on impact on businesses, employment and incomes with series of bail outs, it’s time to critically assess the impact on education.
Comrade Aremu advised that the government make the period of lock down to “reinvent the public schools in terms of provision of water, sanitary personal protective materials for students and above all ,space for physical distanced interactions in the condition of pandemic”.
He said COVID-19 had “once again exposed the underdevelopment of educational infrastructure and the inherent inequalities between the education of the children of well having parents and mass of children in abandoned public schools.”
He called for bail outs for public education through public and private partnership as envisaged by UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Aremu called for a classification of teachers as “essential workers” to enable the country guarantee continuous educational service delivery during the pandemic.
The statement said Aremu, a labour leader and a member of National Institute Kuru Jos , made a case for teachers as essential services in his remark at the Virtual 4th Edition of Kwara State chapter of National Union of Journalists (NUJ) Annual Ramadan Lecture in honour of his late wife, Hadjia Hamdalat Aremu on Thursday in Ilorin.
At the Virtual 2-hour interactive session under the theme “COVID-19: Gains in Pain- Kwara Experience”, Aremu also suggested that all states governments should adopt the award-winning “Opon Imo” Tablet of Knowledge launched in 2013 under the leadership of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola in a Osun state.
He stated that the new Normal calls for technology innovation in education sectors. “Opon Imo” Tablet of Knowledge, was an innovation which armed every pupil with all the books in every subject needed by the students in the conditions of COVID-19.
“Continuous Education of students is critical to minimize the pains and maximize the gains of COVID-19,” he said.
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