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The Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba, has said that contrary to reports that the Federal Government is making plans to reopen schools, it is only making plans for students in exit classes to write exams.

Nwajiuba said this on Wednesday, during an interview on Channels TV’s Politics Today.

According to him, despite the shutting of schools as a result of the COVID-19, exams are critical for the academic progress of students.

He, therefore, stated that the ministry presented its concerns to the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and plans are only being made for those who choose to write these exams.

“We presented to the PTF and by extension, the Federal Government, the plans by examination bodies to hold their exams. The exams are critical for how children progress.

“We examined it and we felt that it is important to allow those examinations to take place but ahead of them taking place, it is important that those children who have not had the opportunity to revise their syllabus, should have an opportunity to go through that and have a revision class before the exams.

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“Most people who can afford it are already saying they want to be at home and go to the exams from home, that is terrific.

“But we understand the limitations of the average Nigerian because not everybody can afford laptops and devices and so if there are people who do have this access and feel confident that their children are ready for the exams, well, we are not compelling anybody to go to any school.

“What we have done is make the facilities in our schools available,” he said.

“You all know that education is on the concurrent legislative list and we’ve asked that state government’s that own these schools, to provide places to wash hands, check the temperature of the children constantly, have sanitizers in place. Private schools should be able to provide that.

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“It’s really not a compulsion, we are just making facilities available for those who want to take the exams”.

In May, the minister had said that the Federal Government was not ready to take the risk of reopening schools.

“Until we are sure that these children can go to school, return safely and not bring home with them, this COVID material, and infect people who are more susceptible to the disease than they are, then we are running a huge risk and god forbid that in our hurry, something happens to our children, I’m not sure how anybody will be able to retrieve what would have been lost.

“So we are not taking that risk yet. We are going to prepare as much as possible, within the guidance that they (health authorities) offer us, working in conjunction with the World Health Organisation before we reopen schools”.

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