The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has expressed concerns over the planned resumption of academic activities next week, saying the institutions were not ready for safe reopening.
KanyiDaily recalls that tertiary institutions took a break from academic activities due to both the COVID-19 pandemic and welfare-related face-off with the Federal Government which has kept them out of classes for 10 months.
Three days ago, the National Universities Commission (NUC) directed that universities could resume on January 18, 2020, but must adhere to COVID-19 protocols in hostels and lecture halls.
Howver, during an interview with PUNCH, ASUU said although its members were ready to start work, the government had not put measures in place for the safe reopening of the schools.
The union Chairman at the Obafemi Awolowo, University, Osun State, Dr Adeola Egbedokun, said classroom and hostel situations in universities did not in any way conform with COVID-19 protocols.
“COVID-19 is very real and this second wave is as real as described. We cannot afford to toy with our health and our dear students’ health 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 with 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,” Egbedokun said.
Dr Adebayo Oni, who is the union chairman at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta FUNAAB, said: “The lecture halls are overcrowded.
“As of today, in 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?
“It is definitely a threat to the resumption of academic activities. 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 session, 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.”
Meanwhile, public university workers will workers will embark on three-day protest on Tuesday, over FG’s poor handling of the IPPIS payment and other related issues.