The federal government has directed that all schools from the primary to the tertiary level should remain open during the general election as stipulated by the timetable of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
It said there is no reason for the closure of the schools. Private schools are also expected to comply with the directive. The decision was reached at the end of a meeting of the Minister of Education, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau and states’ Commissioners of Education, management of the National Universities Commission (NUC), National Board for Technical Educations (NABTE) and other stakeholders in the education sector in Abuja on Monday.
It was taken to allay what the minister said are unfounded fears and rumours of security threats during the elections.
“We have had elections in the past and schools were in session…there is no reason before us that can compel us to decide otherwise to close the schools,” he said.
Briefing journalists on the resolutions reached at the end of the meeting, the minister explained that schools are already in the second term and have lost much ground following their closure to prevent the spread of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).
Shekarau further directed that schools that are already on mid term break should recall their students, while those yet to embark on the break should hold off.
On schools where polling units would be stationed, especially boarding schools, the minister said the Ministry would write the state governments and state Ministries of Education to ensure the adequate provision of security.
“We pray the elections come and go peacefully. We urge parents and citizens not to work with rumours and unfounded statements that would make them insist schools should release their children,” he said.
The minister urged the state commissioners to ensure that private schools in their domains comply with the directives as “the private schools exist at the mercy of the state governments.
“We expect that parents trust the school they have enrolled their children, we do not want parents to disrupt school sessions. We do not want to work with ‘ifs’. If this happens, what happens? If that happens, what happens?” Shekarau explained.
By Damilola Oyedele,