September 22, 2014 – Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola Sunday announced Monday, October 8, 2014 as new date for resumption of schools in the State for academic work saying the one week extension from Monday 22 would be used to conclude the distribution of personal hygiene and other preventive materials against Ebola infection in all the schools.
Making the announcement at a meeting with teachers of public schools in the State at the LTV Blue Roof Hall, Governor Fashola said the October 8 date was arrived at by the State Executive Council after considering the fact that the Eid-El-Fitri public holidays was already around the corner adding that it would not be ideal to break the school programme again soon after resumption.
The Governor explained in an interview later, “Schools re-open tomorrow (Monday, September 22) but for the purpose of preparing the schools and tidying up loose ends and then instead of having the children resuming and then breaking up for Eid, let the Eid period run then we start full blast. That is what I and my colleagues have worked on all night and that is what you are likely to see across the schools going forward”.
Addressing the capacity audience of hundreds of teachers, including Principals, Vice-Principals, Tutors General, Head Teachers and their deputies as well as Executive members of the State’s Chapter of the Nigerian Union of Teachers and other education stakeholders, Fashola reiterated that the Ebola Virus Disease has been contained in the State and there was no need for anyone to fear.
The Governor, who identified with the anxiety of the teachers as genuine, however, said the State has reached the point where the Government must have to take a decision on when to open the schools adding, “We can compare and contrast what is the experience in other states; those experiences can only guide us, they cannot bind us”.
Arguing that the experiences are different, Fashola declared, “Some states that may want to re-open tomorrow (September 22) didn’t have an outbreak of Ebola; Patrick Sawyer didn’t land in their states, he landed here”, adding that before the index case landed in Nigeria there was no previous case of Ebola.
Fashola said the most logical thing to do in this case was to act based on what is known which is that experts have confirmed that there is no more case of Ebola Virus Disease in Lagos State adding that the Government has made every arrangement, including training teachers on all relevant information about the disease and appointing one Ebola officer to each school in the State who knows what action to take should there be any suspected case of the disease in any of the schools.
Earlier, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Public Health, Dr. (Mrs.) Yewande Adeshina had assured the teachers that the Ebola Virus Disease had been finally contained and there is no case of the disease in the State adding that necessary preventive materials against the disease had been sent to the Education District offices for distribution to the schools.
Such materials, she said, include drums of water with taps and buckets as well as liquid soap for hand washing, hand gloves, thermo-scans, sanitizers and so on adding that if the fear was about contacting the disease in the schools, the teachers need not to entertain such fears.
She confirmed that in the last two weeks the Ministry of Health had engaged in training teachers from all the schools to ensure that they have the right information about the disease adding that within the period, Government officials have also been meeting with stakeholders as well as Contact Officers on Ebola in preparation for the resumption of the schools.
Assuring the teachers that those who have been trained, including the Contact Officers, know and have the information of what to do in the case of any suspected Ebola case, the Special Adviser told them, “Teachers please trust the Government that it will not want you to go back to school except that it has put necessary things in place to ensure your safety”.
In his own remarks earlier, Chairman of the State Chapter of the Nigerian Union of Teachers, Comrade Adesegun Raheem, said the teachers were only anxious to know when the preventive materials which Government promised would reach all the schools adding that the executive council of the union had scheduled a meeting to take a decision on the issue before the invitation of the Governor’s meeting came to them.
Expressing the readiness of the teachers to return to school, Comrade Raheem said even if it became necessary to shift the date in order to get the preventive materials across to all the schools, the teachers would work to catch up on any lost academic time when the schools finally resume.
Also present at the occasion were some members of the State Executive Council including the Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Olayinka Oladunjoye, Special Adviser on Education, Otunba Fatai Olukoga, Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Lateef Ibirogba, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Mrs. Omolara Erogbogbo and Special Adviser, Eko Education Project, Ms. Ronke Azeez among other top officials of the State’s Education Sector.