The Ministry of Education has cautioned states against flouting the Safe School Readiness Template (SSRT) in their various states ahead of full reopening of schools.

The Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, gave the warning at the opening of North West zonal stakeholders’ meeting on schools’ re-opening dialogue in Kano.

Nwajiuba, who regretted that learners had lost huge grounds in their educational pursuit since the lockdown six months ago, maintained that states must ensure strict adherence to the implementation of the template.

He explained that the Federal Government, with the support of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), developed the SSRT, an integrated approach with critical components that guarantee safe teaching and learning against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Although, the Federal Government has directed the re-opening of schools nationwide, the minister emphasised that the final decision rested on state’s preparedness and commitment to all safety measures.

He noted that Monitoring and Evacuation, as well as Quality Assurance and Compliance teams, would be deployed to states to ensure compliance.

Kano State Commissioner for Education, Mohammad Kiru, disclosed government’s preparedness to decongest classrooms with the release of N20 million each to the 44 councils, for rehabilitation of dilapidated structures.

Meanwhile, UNICEF, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) and other stakeholders in the North East are meeting with the ministry for guidelines on schools’ resumption.

At a North East Zonal Meeting in Bauchi, the minister said that the closure of schools affected the education sector negatively.

However, UNICEF’s Chief of Field Office, Bauchi, Mr. Bhanu Pathak, said with the emergency at hand and closure of schools, it had become important for the states to develop response plans to ensure continuation of teaching and learning as well as spread COVID-19 prevention and control messages.

But the commissioners of education from the 19 Northern states have agreed to open schools on October 30, 2020.

A communiqué signed by Kaduna education commissioner, Dr. Shehu Mohammed, after their virtual meeting on Sunday, stated: “We agreed to re-open schools as soon as possible, fully or in phases, hopefully before October 30, 2020. But subject to the approval of our respective governors, some states have already re-opened fully while others opened partially since September 14, 2020.” The commissioners urged the Federal Government to support states to meet the COVID-19 requirements for re-opening of schools, as it did to other sectors.

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