Finland Reopens Schools Despite COVID-19 Warnings From Teachers’ Union

Pupils keep social distances before entering Eestinkallio primary school, as it re-opens after the lockdown due to the new coronavirus pandemic on May 14, 2020 in Espoo, Finland. ALESSANDRO RAMPAZZO / AFP.

 

Finnish school children began returning to class on Thursday after eight weeks of coronavirus lockdown despite warnings from the teacher’s union it may not be totally safe for staff or children.

The reopenings see pupils back at school for just over two weeks before the summer holidays begin in early June, with strict social distancing rules in place.

Break times will be staggered to avoid large numbers of children in the playground at once, and unused spaces will be turned into classrooms to allow pupils to spread out, Education Minister Li Andersson said when announcing the decision on 29 April.

Finland has so far recorded 284 coronavirus-related deaths and over 6,000 infections, a lower rate than neighbouring Nordic countries, which has led epidemiologists to warn that future waves of the virus may prove more serious.

At Eestinkallio primary school, on the outskirts of the capital Helsinki, teachers made sure children kept a safe distance apart as they waited in the playground for school to start.

Under social distancing regulations, some grades started the school day two hours later than usual, at 10.15.

“I think we’ll be focusing more on the social side than the actual teaching, making sure the kids are OK,” class tutor Johanna Mauno told AFP.

“We’ve already got their end of year grades so we’ll be trying to get back to some sort of normal so the kids don’t have such a huge gap before the autumn term starts.”

READ ALSO: World Leaders Demand Free COVID-19 Vaccine For All

On Tuesday, Andersson announced that laws were being drafted to allow for schools to switch between classroom and distance teaching as required once term starts again in mid-August, if the epidemic spikes.

– Safety concerns –

The Finnish union of teachers has criticised the plan to restart teaching in classrooms rather than remotely.

The union said in a statement that “it is not clear that this is in the interests of the children” and warned schools may not “be able to fully ensure safety for the children or staff.”

The state’s top epidemiologist, Mika Salminen, however defended the move, telling a press conference on April 29 that “the share of children with the disease is small.”

“The risk of a child infecting an adult is not realistic. Opening schools is risk-free.”

Opinion polls on Wednesday suggested the public was evenly split on the issue.

Antti Kamppi, a father of three children at the Eestinkallio school, told AFP he wasn’t too concerned.

“The infection situation in Finland looks quite stable at the moment so I’d say this two-week return to school isn’t a bad thing and it’s mostly positive,” he said.

Head teacher Salla Leinonen said the staff and students had taken “large digital steps forward.”

“If in autum we have to move back to distance learning, we’ll be much more ready than we were in March.”

Finland introduced lockdown measures in mid-March which included the mandatory closure of schools for all children over 10, with younger children told to remain at home unless their parents were essential workers.

All children are now obliged to return to school unless they can produce a doctor’s certificate authorising them to continue distance learning.

A survey by national broadcaster Yle claimed on Wednesday that around five percent of pupils, numbering 30,000, would be eligible to remain at home after Thursday.

In early May the government announced a plan to gradually lift lockdown measures, but restaurants, bars and cultural institutions such as theatres would only be allowed to open their doors on June 1, under social distancing rules and a ban on gatherings of more than 50 people.

AFP

Ogun Receives First Batch Of Home Grown School Food Items

Map of Ogun State

 

The Ogun State Government has taken delivery of the first batch of food items for the Home Grown School Feeding Programme by the Federal Government.

The food items which include rice, beans, salt, palm oil and vegetable oil are to be distributed to families of pupils in public primary schools in the three senatorial district of the state.

READ ALSO: How We Plan To Execute School Feeding Programme Despite Lockdown – FG

Special Adviser to President Buhari on School Feeding Programme, Titi Adeyemi-Doro while delivering the items to Ogun State officials on Tuesday said the palliatives are targeted at vulnerable school children.

Some of the items which include rice, beans, salt, palm oil and vegetable oil in the warehouse, set for distribution.

 

“Through the communities, many schools exist. The figures adopted by this COVID-19 response are the figures that we have been using in the school feeding programme in identifying the children and it is approved by the National Bureau of Statistics.

“The objective of this programme is to provide palliatives to vulnerable children during the lockdown and to ensure that vulnerable children on the school feeding programme continue to get nutritious food,” she said.

She added that the items will be delivered to households with children in public primary schools between primary 1-3 and have been verified in the school feeding.

According to her, the number of schools cleared by the National Bureau of Statistics for Ogun State is 1,589 schools while pupils cleared are 181,172.

The state commissioner for special duties and the director, Ogun State school feeding programme, Femi Ogunbanwo, while receiving the items explained the modalities to be adopted in the distribution of the stimulus packages. He assured that the state will be fair in the distribution.

One Killed, Four Injured As Angry Mobs Burn Police Vehicle In Jigawa

 

One person is reported to have been killed while four others injured after angry mobs burnt a police vehicle in Malam Madori local Government of Jigawa state. 

A police patrol vehicle knocked down a schoolgirl during a hot chase of a commercial vehicle that refused to stop at a checkpoint on Friday.

The police public relations officer in the state, SP Abdu Jinjiri, who confirmed to Channels Television in a telephone interview, said the incident began when two police officers in a patrol vehicle on a hot chase of a suspected vehicle knocked down a schoolgirl who is said to be on her way home after school hours.

READ ALSO: Kaduna Court Frees 91 Shiite Members After Four Years In Detention

He added that an angry mob reacted, which led to the four passengers travelling in the suspected vehicle being injured and they went ahead to burn both the patrol vehicle and the suspected car.

SP Jinjiri stated that the two officers have been arrested and are detained for investigation, while the four others that were injured are receiving treatment at the Hadejia general hospital.

However, an eyewitness who spoke to Channels Television in a phone interview said two schoolgirls were knocked down by the police patrol vehicle after a commercial driver refuses to stop at a police checkpoint.

He added that angry residents in reaction now attacked the police officers and burnt their vehicles.

Seven Children Killed In Nairobi Classroom Collapse

 

Seven primary school children died and dozens more were injured when their classroom collapsed on Monday morning in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, a government spokesman said.

“So far we can confirm that we have seven fatalities and 57 others are in hospital,” government spokesman Cyrus Oguna said at the scene.

Hundreds of angry residents of Dagoretti — a poor area where many live in makeshift houses — swarmed around the site where rescuers picked through the rubble of the classroom.

Read Also: Three Children Die In Delta Flood

An AFP reporter at the site said books and desks were strewn through the debris of the semi-permanent structure, made of concrete, iron sheeting and timber. The structure had been partly raised up to add a storey.

The building collapsed shortly after 7:00 am, as pupils entered the classroom.

“Seven pupils dead, several injured after a classroom collapsed at (Precious) Talent Academy in Dagoretti,” St John Ambulance — whose rescuers were involved in the search and rescue — wrote on Twitter.

India Car Crash Leaves 9 Schoolchildren Dead, 20 Injured

 

 

At least nine schoolchildren were killed and 20 others injured in eastern India’s Bihar state on Saturday after a vehicle crashed into them outside their school in an apparent hit-and-run, police said.

Officers said the driver hit the children at speed as he was driving away from another location close to the school, where his vehicle had brushed against a pedestrian.

The incident took place in Muzaffarpur district, around 43 miles (70 kilometres) from the state capital Patna.

“Eyewitnesses have told us that the driver didn’t stop even after running over these middle-school children,” Anil Kumar Singh, deputy inspector general of Bihar police told AFP.

“His car overturned after the accident and he ran away from the spot. We are still looking for him,” he said.

The 20 injured children have been admitted to a hospital, he added.

India has some of the world’s deadliest roads.

At least 12 children aged between seven and 14 were killed in northern Uttar Pradesh state last January after their school bus collided with a truck.

More than 150,000 people are killed each year with most accidents blamed on poor roads, badly maintained vehicles and reckless driving.

AFP

Nigeria Commits To Reducing Number Of Out-Of-School Children

Nigeria On Out Of School ChildrenThe Federal Government says Nigeria is committed to reducing the number of out of school children by the year 2030.

The declaration follows prediction by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) that Nigeria may not achieve the Sustainable Development Goal for education by 2030.

This was revealed in a report launched on Monday in Abuja by the Minister of Education, Mr Adamu Adamu, at a gathering of experts, government officials and other key players in the education sector.

The Global Education Monitoring Report for 2016, prepared by UNESCO, stated that Nigeria might not achieve universal primary education until 2070.

The report examined how countries would achieve the target and also checked the present status of countries on education globally and where they would be by 2030.

The Director at UNESCO’s Abuja Regional Office, Benoit Sossou, called for increased access to quality basic education as a way of addressing the problem.

Mr Adamu, however, reaffirmed that the Federal Government was committed to ensuring Nigeria meets the 2030 target by reducing the number of out of school children.

On his part, the Minister of State for Education, Professor Anthony Anwukiah, also insisted that the 2030 education agenda is achievable with the concerted efforts of all Nigerians.

The Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) had in August expressed worry over the number of out of school children in Nigeria.

The Executive Secretary of UBEC, Dr. Hamid Bobboyi, raised the concern at a meeting with Heads of State Universal Basic Commissions across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

He said that increasing the number of children in schools was a priority for the Federal Government, stressing that there was no justification for any child not to be enrolled into the basic education scheme.

UBEC Boss Decries Number Of Out Of School Children

UBEC Decries Number Of Out Of School ChildrenThe Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) has expressed worry over the number of out of school children in Nigeria.

The Executive Secretary of UBEC, Dr. Hamid Bobboyi, raised the concern on Wednesday at a meeting with Heads of State Universal Basic Commissions across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

He stressed that increasing the number of children in schools was a priority for the Federal Government.

Dr. Bobboyi stated that there was no justification for any child not to be enrolled into Nigeria’s basic education scheme.

He called on state governments to bridge the gap by ensuring the enrollment of children, adding that the basic education funds must be used judiciously.

Group Offers Educational Support To Displaced Children In Yobe

YobeThe Victims Support Fund (VSF) has distributed some learning materials to 3000 school children in Yobe State, Northeast Nigeria.

Text books, writing materials, and bags among others were distributed to school children affected by insurgency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states.

The gesture was disclosed by the Executive Secretary of the Victims Support Fund, Professor Sunday Ocheche, while launching the programme at the IDPs camp in Pompomari area of Damaturu, the Yobe State capital.

Professor Ocheche said that the mandate of his organisation is to administer support to victims of insurgency and create the enabling environment for accelerated recovery and sustainable peace and development in the country, particularly the affected areas.

He said that apart from the educational support, the organisation is also committed to promoting peace in the war ravaged areas and the country as a whole, as well as engage in economic empowerment for the less privileged affected by the Boko Haram insurgency.

Ocheche said that the intention of the organisation is to directly impact the lives of children in the state who are victims of the insurgency.

He expressed hope that the efforts done so far by government and Non-Governmental Organisations across the country and the world at large would help reduce the re-occurrence of the Boko Haram insurgency.

Receiving the materials on behalf of the Yobe State government, the Commissioner of Education, Mohammed Lamin, called on others to emulate VSF by providing other interventions in the areas of chairs construction of classroom blocks among others.

He urged the school authorities to ensure the teachers and pupils make the best use of the materials supplied.

In his remark, the Headmaster at the Pompomari IDP School, Mr Bunu Bulamaand, and a teacher in the school, Mr Oluwaseun, both described the gesture as magnanimous and promised to use the teaching facilities for the purpose intended.

The pupils, according to them have greatly improved academically compared to how they started and called for more support towards assisting the educational needs of the displaced children.

The next critical support according to VSF, would be targeting the economic empowerment of women, mostly the IDPs who lost their husband during the war and have assumed responsibility of the home.

No Plans To Impound School Buses Not Painted Yellow Yet – FRSC

frsc-logoA representative of the Federal Road Safety Corp (FRSC) Deputy Corp., Public Education Officer, Bisi Kazeem, on Friday said that the agency had no plans to impound school buses not painted yellow, hinting that such a measure may be adopted after “subtle enforcement”.

“We would not impound any vehicle as at now” he said, during an interview on Sunrise Daily.

There had been complaints by school owners concerning FRSC’s order that all school buses must be painted yellow, to give them a unique appearance, as well as act as a cautionary measure for other road users.

A concerned school owner who chose anonymity had told Channels Television that the directive could not achieve what the Agency said it would, and that it would cost school owners funds which can be re-invested to give students better education.

In response, Mr Kazeem stated that students were being conveyed in sub-standard buses. Recalling an accident involving a school bus in 2009, where some students fell out of a bus and were run over by an on-coming vehicle, Mr Kazeem said that the FRSC was prompted to organise a one-day stakeholder forum to address the issues, in 2009.

He disclosed that after the forum, “a 10-man committee was drawn from different organisations to come up with a policy document on school bus standards and operations.

“Subsequently, the document comprising both the guidelines and specifications for school bus operation was approved by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria governing council.

“In line with the above, the Federal Road Safety Corp in conjunction with SON carried out a nationwide sensitisation of State owned educational institutions, proprietors of primary schools and other stakeholders in the six geo-political zones of the country, between March and July, on the contents of the document.”

He further argued that the uniform colour “is a world standard” which would give school buses a uniqueness while on the road. He mentioned that the idea was a replica was what obtained in the United Kingdom.

He denied claims that buses which were not seen to have complied with the instruction by the deadline would be impounded, maintaining that “subtle enforcement means trying to still continue to talk to people on the necessity of complying”.

The unique appearance of school buses, he said, would cause road users to be “weary of driving dangerously” when driving around them.

At a point during the interview, Kazeem hinted on the possibility of impounding vehicles.