Pupils in at least 15 states in the country will not return to their classrooms today as directed by the Federal Government.
This is because in mostof the states, teachers are insisting that safety measures must be put in place to protect them and their pupils from contracting the deadly Ebola Virus Disease.
In some of the states like Lagos and Ogun, the governments opted not to comply with the September 22 date until necessary Ebola safety kits were put in place in their schools.
Also, the gates of the 104 Unity Schools in the country will be shut from today as their teachers commence an industrial action.
The other states where normal academic activities will not resume are Rivers, Oyo, Ekiti, Osun, Benue, Niger, Zamfara, Adamawa, Kano, Kwara, Kogi, Akwa Ibom and Ebonyi states.
Teachers in Lagos will be on duty today but pupils will remain at home until October 8.
There had been controversy over the directive by the Federal Government that schools should resume on September 22 since the spread of the Ebola Virus Disease had been contained in the country.
The Nigeria Union of Teachers however ordered its members to shun academic activities until the government provided gadgets in schools to ensure not only their safety but that of their pupils.
Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola, after meeting on Sunday with public school headteachers, said the decision was to ensure that schools in the state were safe for both the teachers and their pupils.
He said, “On this issue of resumption, we are on the same side. We are all concerned about safety in the schools.
“Some states that would be commencing their academic session tomorrow(today) did not have Ebola outbreak. The index case (Mr. Patrick Sawyer) landed in Lagos and not in these states. And I know that the teachers are afraid just like myself. My biggest fear is that nothing must happen to any resident of Lagos. I am not shy to say I am afraid.
“I understand the fear of the teachers. We are on the same side. We are all concerned about safety in the schools. Whether there is Ebola or not, we have to make the schools safe for the teachers and the pupils.
“My proposal is that the teachers, headmasters and principals should go to their various school tomorrow (today) and sort out whatever is missing in the prescribed Ebola preventive facilities. So, we have to use from tomorrow (today) and the rest of the week to get the schools ready for the students.
“And because of the Eid-il-Kabir festival that also falls within this time, rather than open and close the schools again for the festival. Immediately after the festival, the schools will commence academic session on October 8.”
He said that the state government had “awarded the contract to connect water to at least 800 schools in the state.”
The state NUT Chairman, Mr. Segun Raheem, confirmed the development to one of our correspondents.
Raheem, who argued that teachers in the state had always been in schools even during holidays, however, urged the government to ensure that it provided the necessary facilities before the return of pupils on October 8.
The Secretary to the Ogun State Government, Mr. Taiwo Adeoluwa, had last Friday announced October 8, as the new resumption date for both public and private primary and secondary schools in the state.
Adeoluwa said stakeholders in the state arrived at the new date after a series of meetings.
The state chapters of the NUT, the Academic Staff of Secondary Schools, the Association of Primary School Head Teachers of Nigeria, the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools and the All Nigeria Conference of Principals of Secondary Schools, he added participated in the meetings.
In Akwa Ibom State, the NUT Secretary, Mr. Mike Ike-Ene, said that schools would resume on Monday but that teachers would not be there to teach the pupils.
According to him, the state government had yet to provide the needed EVD safety kits ,like infrared thermometers, sanitisers and hand gloves in schools for the use of pupils and their teachers.
Ike-Ene said, “There will be no school on Monday. They will open their schools but teachers will not be there.
“We are asking them to provide thermometers; water; hand sanitisers and hand gloves. The Akwa Ibom State Government has not met any of these conditions rather they are calling for the resumption of schools tomorrow(today).”
The Kwara State NUT Chairman, Mr. Musa Abubakar, also confirmed that teachers in the state would not resume today.
He told one of our correspondents on Sunday that the state government had not made enough provisions to prevent teachers and pupils from contracting the EVD on resumption of schools.
The state Commissioner for Education, Alhaji Saka Onimago, had directed all schools in the state to resume today.
He had also ordered schools in the state to provide basic hygiene materials, including washing bowls, soap and towels.
The Osun State Government, in a statement by Deputy Governor Titi Laoye-Tomori, said it deferred resumption of schools to October 6 to enable teachers to undergo training on how to prevent the spread of Ebola.
It explained that the new resumption date would allow schools to prepare very well to prevent the disease.
The statement read, “Governor Rauf Aregbesola has directed all public and private schools to reopen for the 2014/2015 academic session on October 6.
“This will enable principals and teachers to receive adequate training to prevent Ebola epidemic in schools and in the state in general.
“Bearing in mind that children will be coming from different homes, it becomes important that teachers are given the basic knowledge on how to prevent the outbreak of the disease.”
The Benue State NUT Chairman, Mr. Godwin Anya, also confirmed that members of the union would not return for the new academic session until the government provided the necessary EVD safety kits in schools.
According to him, the government has not shown enough commitment to guaranteeing the safety of pupils and their teachers.
Anya said, “The unpreparedness of the state government in providing training for us (teachers) coupled with the lack of the necessary preventive and proactive gadgets to combat the EVD in any eventuality has continued to stall reopening of schools on Monday(today).
The NUT in Edo State said it had issued a seven-day ultimatum to the state government to provide the necessary EVD materials in schools or risk a sit-at-home action by its members.
Its Chairman, Mr. Mike Uhunmwangho, who made this known in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents, said teachers and pupils in the state would not want to risk their lives returning to schools without adequate safety nets.
He said, “The state government has agreed to provide sanitisers and the equipment for checking body temperature in schools within one week. Most of the teachers are going to be involved class by class.
“We are giving them between Monday(today) and Friday to put everything in place. If they are not in place after seven days, we will make sure that nobody goes back to school.”
Teachers in the nation’s Federal Government colleges, under the aegis of Federal Government College Teachers Association, have already commenced an industrial action over the non-implementation of promotion arrears and other allowances.
The teachers have therefore advised parents and guardians not to bring their children and wards to any of the 104 schools on Monday (today) for the commencement of the new academic session.
They alleged that the government had failed to pay them their promotion arrears from 2007 to 2010 as well as provide their training allowance amounting to N1.8bn.
A statement by the President, FGCTA, Mr. Tahir Mahmood, and the General Secretary, Mr. Deedar Baloch, obtained by one of our correspondents in Jos, Plateau State on Sunday, specifically accused the Ministry of Education of misappropriating funds for the payment of the promotion arrears from 2007 to 2011 released by the Ministry of Finance.
The teachers also accused the Education ministry of misappropriating N1.8bn, which was released for the payment their outstanding liabilities.