The Commissioners of Education in the 19 Northern States have proposed the reopening of schools before October 30; subject to approval of their respective state governors.
The commissioners made the recommendation in a communique issued in Kaduna on Sunday, at the end of a two-day meeting on student exchange programme, school reopening and other matters.
The communique was signed by Dr Shehu Makarfi, Commissioner of Education, Kaduna State, who is also the Chairman of the School Exchange Programme (SEP) of the northern states.
“We have agreed to reopen schools as soon as possible, hopefully before Oct. 30, fully or in phases, but subject to the approval of our respective governors.
“Some states have already reopened fully, while others opened partially since Sept. 14; so we are looking at the possibilities of reopening as soon as we get approvals.
“We, therefore, urge state governments, development partners, parents and relevant stakeholders to combine efforts in the provision of COVID-19 prevention facilities in schools to fast-track reopening.
“The Federal Government should equally support states to meet the COVID-19 requirements for school reopening; as it did in other sectors,” they said.
The commissioners conceded that the COVID-19 pandemic had affected communications between the state’s Ministries of Education and the Federal Ministry of Education (FME).
They, however. recommended the establishment of an effective communication channel between the FME and the state commissioners of education on policy issues, as well as developments in the education sector, particularly plans on schools reopening.
Besides, the commissioners observed that most of the SEP schools were overpopulated and directed that affected states should strictly adhere to the numbers stipulated in the guidelines for the programme.
According to them, decongesting the schools will ensure quality teaching and learning.
“Commissioners should intensify monitoring of SEP and other schools to improve the education delivery system in their respective states.
“States should equally invest in building the administrative capacities of principals and teachers by organising workshops, while supporting school administrators and teachers to attend courses in institutes of education and public administration.
“Similarly, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) should also be included in school administration to equip school principals and teachers with relevant skills to deliver quality education,” they stated.
The commissioners also resolved to engage the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) in developing the needed strategies for the integration of the pupils of all Almajiri schools into the formal education system.
They agreed to intensify efforts to gain the support and cooperation of all stakeholders in efforts to ensure the success of the integration process.
The meeting was attended by commissioners of 10 of the 19 northern states — Kaduna, Bauchi, Yobe, Plateau, Niger, Kogi, Gombe, Taraba, Nassarawa and Plateau — while others sent apologies for their nonattendance.