The Coronavirus pandemic is a disaster that wrecked millions of people. It is an unfortunate death sentence to elderly people whose body immunity is too weak to resist, fight and win over the deadly virus. Cases continue to grow daily and governments are trying to contain the virus and “flatten the curve” by implementing different measures to help curb the pandemic.
As we continue to swim in the murky water of the pandemic, it is sad to realise many people, both literate and the illiterate, hardly believe the virus exists! Some believe, but try to bring naive theological justifications to prove God is on their side even if they don’t follow medical advices. They misunderstand how God works. People have to defend themselves before seeking protection from God.
Everyday, we realise we can’t overcome the coronavirus, so we are learning to live with it. There is no longer ban on interstate movements. Market places are now open and some offices have resumed back to work. Even weddings and other social gatherings take place, albeit with some restriction measures. This happens before the eyes of government that thinks losing a whole academic year by not going back to basic and secondary schools is not a big deal!
It was initially announced that WAEC examinations are to begin on August 4, 2020, and to end September 5, 2020. Secondary schools students like me had already started preparation for the exam after long hibernation due to the imposition of lockdown, only to be shocked a day after with another heartbreaking news. The Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, was reported to have said it “is not the right time to reopen schools”. And the schools would not open for any reason, not even for WAEC examinations!
I personally became so shocked that few sentences by the Honourable Minister mean losing a whole academic year to me. It also means my UTME result would possibly expire. And if, God forbid, I fail my exams next year, it literally means two years will go down the drain. All these concerns toiling my brain sent me to a minimum term depression.
The Federal Government said it is planning for teachers to engage students through online classes. But nobody thinks about hundreds of thousands of students who couldn’t access internet or are digitally not included. Try to imagine what online classes would possibly mean to majority of students in rural areas who have never accessed or surfed the internet! Try to imagine the cost of data bundles to poor parents who couldn’t have a day of three square meal, especially in this trying time when businesses are experiencing hard economic meltdowns.
We hope government will reconsider its decision and open school for general inclusion for all students in Nigeria regardless of their economic and digital status.
Scientists say children are not likely to be seriously ill due to the virus. Our immunity is so strong that we can fight and overcome the biological war. And parents at home, I believe, are well aware that a child needs proper care to avoid contracting the virus; they will do their best to protect us when we come back from schools.
The schools will also ensure social distancing measures practiced. It will also ban playing and extra-curricula activities in the school premises, adding to the reducing the number of students per class. And for WAEC candidates, we can sit for our exams while being very conscious of the virus. Believe me you, in Nigeria, exam spacing to avoid malpractice is far more than the six meters approved by WHO for social distancing. This is the practice, at least in my school.
Miss Labbo is a WAEC candidate who attends Yandutse College in Kano