Before you shut down those schools!

I am not in any way saying that schools should not be shut down. But some things must be gotten right and put in place first. Truth is that the pandemic in Nigeria has not been recorded at all in the Northern part of the country. This means that there is still time to conduct a state wide sensitisation campaign on coronavirus.

Ask an average Sokoto inhabitant what coronavirus is, he does not know. These are people living in the heart of the city, not to talk of people dwelling in the rural areas. An average man on the streets of Katsina does not know what coronavirus is; let alone the precautionary measures to be taken. I am talking from experience. I have conducted some haphazard studies, and I know the result I got.

Therefore, the governments of the Northern states, before shutting down schools should think of how to make the schools a medium of educating, sensitising the students on Covid-19 (what it is; how it spreads and the preventive strategies).

Officials of the Ministry of Health in collaboration with that of Education should conduct a routine visitation to schools across the state, educate the pupils, break it down to them in their local language, come with instructional materials and indeed demonstrate how to wash their hands for three days or a week before closing down the schools.

These children will surely take the message to their parents. Afterwards, massive sensitisation campaigns on traditional and modern media could now start. The need for door-to-door campaign cannot also be ruled out. This is the way to go.

What is the essence of shutting down schools when the students do not know what it is closed down for in the first place and are not equipped with necessary knowledge about Covid-19? This sensitisation campaign should be taken very seriously because, I am sorry to say this, most of our brothers here in the North have nonchalant attitudes in relation to health and personal hygiene.

They cough, sneeze and yawn without covering their mouths; improperly emit saliva from their mouth and do a host of other things that are not hygienic. I am in a good position to say this because I stay in the North, and when the consequences arise, it may onsume us all. Let alone, the governor of my state, Mallam Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq is also a signatory to the initiative.

Abdullah Abdulganiy, a researcher and sociologist, writes from Sokoto State

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