The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), has through its Chairman, Biodun Ogunyemi, disclosed that even if schools reopened today, universities will stay closed.
This is coming after the clamour in some quarters for the Federal Government to reopen schools.
Universities have been closed since March, when the Federal Government declared a national lockdown in the wake of the worldwide pandemic. At the same time, ASUU has been on strike.
The strike action was necessitated after the Federal Government’s decision to withhold the salaries of its members who defied the order of government to enrol in the Integrated Personnel and Payroll System (IPPIS).
While the federal government has now issued a guideline for resumption dates for final year students in primary and secondary schools, nothing has been said about tertiary institutions.
Mr Ogunyemi while speaking with newsmen said, “First, we did not say schools should not be reopened until 2021. We only advised that schools be reopened anytime it is considered safe for our children.”
“They have brought out guidelines and conditions for school resumption, they must now supervise and ensure that those conditions are met. Beyond formulating a policy, they must see to its implementation. So, we are saying it is not just a matter of putting things on papers but implementation from primary schools to tertiary institutions”.
He also said that reopening schools now won’t mean a thing since universities have peculiar problems they are facing on their own.
“Talking of universities, it should be noted that the crises are beyond COVID-19. There are fundamental crises that will make universities reopening longer and impossible for now. We had long told government our position and until they meet necessary conditions, universities are not resuming even after COVID”.
“There are outstanding issues and government is not ready to fix our universities and provide enabling learning environment. For instance, we are talking about revitalisation… if our institutions are well equipped, there is no reason why coronavirus should stop academic activities.”
“You cannot talk about social distancing in universities without talking about additional lecture rooms. So, we have two crisis delaying resumption. The health crisis and the refusal of government to make our universities standard,” he said.
Mr Ogunyemi urged the government to pay give similar attention to the educational sector, as the one it gives to the health sector.
“Government should not pay attention to health sector and neglect education sector. If the could raise taskforce to look into COVID-19, they should do so to address the challenges of education sector which include revitalisation funds for universities so that our institutions can be up to standard.”