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HomeExclusiveWhy It Is Not Safe To Reopen Universities Now- ASUU

Why It Is Not Safe To Reopen Universities Now- ASUU

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By Babajide Okeowo

Following a recent directive by the National Universities Commission, NUC that universities in the country should resume academic activities on January 18, 2021, various branches of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU have declared that it is unsafe to reopen classrooms now.

The reason given by the association is the failure of the Federal Government to put measures in place to ensure the safe reopening of schools.

ASUU said although its members were ready to start work there must be strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols in hostels and lecture halls following the rise in COVID 19 cases in the country in recent weeks.

The union’s Chairman at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Osun State, Dr. Adeola Egbedokun disclosed that classroom and hostel situations in universities did not in any way conform to COVID-19 protocols.

Egbedokun lamented that no preparations had been made so far for the safe re-opening of the universities and urged parents to insist on safety before re-opening.

“COVID-19 is very real and this second wave is as real as described. We cannot afford to toy with our health and the health of our dear students in the name of resumption, which is politically motivated.

There are no preparations for safe re-opening of the universities and I think parents must insist on safe re-opening. The current classroom and hostel configurations in our universities do not in any way conform to the PTF (Presidential Task Force) on COVID-19 protocols. There is no way universities can achieve that. I have said this elsewhere, that rather than for the government to have addressed the obvious deficits in the public universities during the lockdown and strike, they were playing to the gallery” he lamented.

Similarly, ASUU at the Federal University of Agriculture, FUNAAB, Abeokuta said the university was not ready to cope with COVID-19 challenges.

“The lecture halls are overcrowded. As of today, on my own campus, I have not seen any facility for hand washing. Who is to provide sanitisers? Do you expect lecturers to provide sanitisers for themselves?

Fumigation of the environment from time to time should be done, How do you cope with students surge and the challenge of power supply” the Chairman of ASUU-FUNAAB, Dr Adebayo Oni, asked.

“The fact is that under this circumstance and looking at the threat of the figure, going physical with students would be more disastrous. Conducting physical sessions, physical lectures with students would be more disastrous.

The truth of the matter is that we now propose a mixed model of online teaching and probably some level of physical teachings.

Even online teaching also comes with its own facilities which are not readily available. We don’t want to be pessimistic to say that it is not going to be workable. However, it is going to be at the risk of our lives and the lives of our students if the required facilities are not provided by the government.

The truth is that the facilities to cope with the pandemic are not available in our institutions. It appears the government is not ready and our institutions are not helpful” he added.

Similarly, the Chairman of the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University branch of ASUU, Dr. Musa Babayo, disclosed that the government and institutions did not show any sign of seriousness in handling COVID-19 issues when the union was on strike.

Babayo added that if the Federal Government had released funds to universities, proper arrangements for the protocols would have been made by the institutions.

“The coast is now very clear since has ASUU suspended its strike and it has gone further to show how government and institutions are not serious in handling universities, particularly the issues of COVID-19.

When you talk about ATBU and resumption whether ASUU is satisfied, I can tell you that we have yet to see any tangible improvement, whether in hostel accommodation, classrooms and other things needed for COVID-19 protocols” he said.

Recall that after an industrial action that grounded academic activities in the country for close to a year, the NUC had directed that academic activities should resume in the country’s tertiary institutions by January 18, 2021.

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