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COVID-19: How we’re preparing to reopen universities — NUC

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Says 32 varsities undertaking researches on Coronavirus cure

COVID-19: How we're preparing to reopen universities — NUC
National Universities Commission NUC)

By Joseph Erunke – Abuja

The National Universities Commission, NUC, Tuesday, said preparations were in top gear to reopen the nation’s universities after closure as a result of the outbreak of Coronavirus in the country.

To this end, the commission said it was collating data on the assessment of the level of preparedness by the various universities through their vice-chancellors to determine if the universities were safe for resumption to both academic and non-academic activities.

This was even as the commission said a total of 32 universities in the country were carrying out researches on solutions to the dreaded Coronavirus in the country.

NUC’s Executive Secretary, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, speaking at a media briefing in Abuja, disclosed that so far, reasonable number of vice-chancellors have submitted their reports on the level of their readiness to the commission, saying once the process was concluded, it would make a statement either to direct universities to resume or otherwise.

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Rasheed, who spoke through the Deputy Executive Secretary, Academics, Dr. Suleiman Ramon Yusuf, at the briefing meant to showcase the ongoing contributions of Nigerian universities to the national response to COVID-19, however, regretted the expected resumption may be marred by a strike in public varsities even as he said efforts were on to looking for a permanent to the incessant industrial action in universities.

The commission, he was, was already working with universities in terms of what kind of preparation should be put in place before reopening.

“We have a template to vice-chancellors of all universities requesting them to suggest to us what kind of protocols and strategies are they putting in place in the various institutions. We are collating some of the responses which have already started coming in and at the end of the day the picture should emerge about the extent to which our universities are prepared to reopen for academic activities,” he said

Earlier, while speaking on the various contributions being made by Nigerian universities in coronavirus pandemic, Rasheed said over thirty-two universities in the country have so far involved in researches aimed at mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to him, a compendium put together by the commission showed Nigerian universities are making contributions, adding that the University of Jos, which he noted, was leading in herbal and natural product development, could do more if federal government release more funds to such institutions for research purposes.

“As in many other parts of the world, the pandemic has challenged our knowledge system, which has proved inadequate and insufficiently robust enough to respond to the challenges. Only a few institutions have been able to utilize open and distance learning systems to keep students engaged while the pandemic lasted and only a few laboratories continued with research and development activities.

“Nonetheless, the few who engaged in research and innovation work have demonstrated the need for a well-funded and robustly organized national research and innovation system to catalyse the national response,” he said.

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According to him, “The performance of the African Centers of Excellence, particularly the Center for the Genomics of Infectious Diseases at the Redeemer’s University, Ede in Sequencing SARS-CoV-2 virus, the collaborative development of vaccines with the University of Cambridge and as a pioneer national testing and screening centre and the other ACES in ABU, BUK, UNILAG, UNIBEN, UNIPORT and UNIJOS that also served as national testing and screening centres have proved that world-class Research and Development work is possible in Nigeria.”

“They demonstrate how the Nigerian University System can be readily effective and relevant to national development if research is valued and adequately funded and the institutions provided with resources to motivate researchers and innovators, including students,” Rasheed further said.

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