The government of Anambra State has adopted Saturdays for normal school days following the weekly sit –at-home on Mondays declared by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.
Although the new measure takes immediate effect, some schools still opened yesterday for normal classes, while others asked the pupils to return home.
Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr. C Don Adinuba, who spoke with Vanguard on the new development, explained that it was to ensure the safety of pupils and teachers, as well as all the stakeholders.
He said: “We want our pupils to learn as much as possible in a safe environment. With the new measure we have taken, all the stakeholders are winners. These stakeholders are the pupils, teachers, school administrators, proprietors, parents, guardians and the host communities.
“With this, nobody loses anything for the time being. We hope that in the next few weeks, things will normalize. With the Saturday school, people who depend on sales in the schools to feed their families will still make up for the loss of Monday as they will still be providing services in the schools five days in a week”
According to the Commissioner, Anambra teachers have already adjusted to the new measure as they believe it is a worthy sacrifice they have to make in the interest of education growth in the state.
He added: “If we insist on going to school on Mondays under the present situation, the pupils and teachers might be harassed, which is what we do not want. You will recall an incident when an Anglican priest was killed because he allowed students to write exams on a Monday, while the motorcycles belonging to teachers were set ablaze by attackers.
“There is therefore the need to safeguard the life of everyone in the state. To us, this Saturday arrangement is a brilliant idea and it is the best alternative we have for now.”
The Association of Private School Owners of Nigeria (APSON) has kicked against the adoption of Saturday as a school day to make up for the loss every Monday.
Recall that schools in the South-East are being forced to close on Mondays due to the sit-at-home order.
This is happening even after the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, which issued the order to show solidarity to its detained Leader, Nnamdi Kanu, had cancelled it.
In a statement issued in Enugu and made available to Newsmen the Chairman of Enugu chapter of APSON, Mr Emeka Grahams, appealed to the state government not to introduce the Saturday school policy in the state.
Grahams was reacting to the Anambra Government’s policy adopting Saturday as a school day to replace Monday, with effect from Oct. 30.
He contended that adopting such a policy without recourse to school owners, parents and students would affect the school system.
According to him, Saturdays are work-free days all over the world for workers to rest, engage in activities such as celebration, house chores and cleaning, especially during state monthly environmental sanitation.
“Some weeks back, I heard that some schools in Enugu now run Saturday classes to enable them deal with the loss and setback occasioned by the Monday sit-at-home order.
“At first, I thought it impossible and incredible how proprietors could impose it on their teachers, students and parents.
“While still wondering and pondering over this, the news came about Anambra’s take-off of the same policy of opening schools on Saturdays to commence on Oct. 30,’’ Grahams stated.
He stated the rumour of other southeast states following suit had been rife and consistent.
He Also stated that the policy ought to be brought to a roundtable, where stakeholders in the education sector would make input rather than forcing it on teachers, parents, school owners and students/pupils.
Grahams, therefore, berated schools, teachers, proprietors and students engaging in academic programmes on Saturdays.
He stated that with the policy, some parents, proprietors and even teachers, who give out their children for marriage on Saturdays, would constantly seek permission to attend.
“Some parents, teachers, students and proprietors attend burials, marriages and other ceremonies on Saturdays.
“Others, who engage as best men, bridal train, girls and men on asho-ebi (uniform) or suit, will definitely come to you for permission.
“The students, pupils are the little brides, grooms, flower girls and stuff like that and definitely you won’t see them in school each time they have a wedding to attend,’’ he added.
Grahams argued that Saturday school would “leave teachers smiling before their employers as well as suffering and murmuring behind them”.
He feared that the policy would force many of them out of the system, thus compounding the post COVID-19 impact on the system .
The only way out, according to him, is to extend the learning period from the shortened school periods.
“Some schools, which dismiss between 2pm and 4pm, can make an extension of two to three hours, bringing their closing time to between 4pm and 6pm.
“The additional two hours, multiplied by four school days, offer us eight hours to deal with the Monday sit-at-home and this is more than enough for one day learning plan.
“Schools can also be asked to commence lessons earlier than 8am by resuming at 6am, conduct morning devotion from 6.30am to 7am,’’ he stated.
He added that roll calls could be done from 7am to 7.15am, while the first period of 45 minutes could run from 7.15am to 8am, “giving us four more periods for the four days of school”.
He argued that it would be unfair to teachers that while other professionals would be home resting and enjoying themselves on Saturdays, they would be in the classroom teaching.