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COVID-19 may renew mass illiteracy in Nigeria, Africa ― Aremu

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…urges FG to declare teachers front line workers

By Ibrahim Hassan – Wuyo

A former governorship candidate of the  Labour Party (LP) in Kwara State and Labor leader, Comrade Issa  Aremu has said that if measures were not put in place urgently, there might be renewed worsening mass illiteracy in Nigeria and Africa due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“One of the eased lockdown measures as directed by the Federal government should be on the education sector,” he said.

Arewa said in a statement on Saturday that it was time the Federal government focus on all sectors’ impact of coronavirus pandemic which had claimed 200 lives and ruined many livelihoods.

He called for an “immediate impact assessment” of the COVID-19 lockdown on education to avoid mass illiteracy.

According to him, “before the pandemic, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) indicated that the population of out of school children in Nigeria has risen from 10.5 million to 13.2 million, the highest in the world.”

He observed that not less than 120,000,000 children and students are currently out of school in West Africa, mostly from Nigeria, adding that if measures are not in place urgently, there might be renewed worsening mass illiteracy in Nigeria and Africa.

“One of the eased lockdown measures as directed by the Federal government should be on the education sector”.

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He said while the official focus had been on the impact on businesses, employment, and incomes with a series of bailouts, it’s time to critically assess the impact on education.

Comrade Aremu advised that the government make the period of lockdown to “reinvent the public schools in terms of provision of water, sanitary personal protective materials for students and above all, space for physical distanced interactions in the condition of pandemic”.

He said COVID-19 had “once again exposed the underdevelopment of educational infrastructure and the inherent inequalities between the education of the children of well-having parents and mass of children in abandoned public schools.”

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He called for bailouts for public education through public and private partnerships as envisaged by UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Aremu called for the classification of teachers as “essential workers” to enable the country guarantee continuous educational service delivery during the pandemic.

At the Virtual 2-hour interactive session under the theme “COVID-19: Gains in Pain- Kwara Experience”, Aremu also suggested that all state governments should adopt the award-winning “Opon Imo” Tablet of Knowledge launched in 2013 under the leadership of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola in Osun state.

He stated that the new Normal calls for technology innovation in education sectors. “Opon Imo” Tablet of Knowledge, was an innovation which armed every pupil with all the books in every subject needed by the students in the conditions of COVID-19.

“Continuous Education of students is critical to minimize the pains and maximize the gains of COVID-19,” he said.

Vanguard News Nigeria.

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