In its bid to step up action towards bringing back to school, children affected by COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown order, the Gombe State Government is collaborating with the Federal Government and the UNICEF towards mitigating the impact of the pandemic in schools and providing effective and quality education.
The collaboration through a programme tagged ” Back to School Campaign/ COVID-19 Response was today flagged off at the Pantami Township Stadium Gombe, targeting 5 million children affected by lockdown as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.
The Gombe State Deputy Governor, Dr. Manassah Daniel Jatau who launched the project on behalf of Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya said the programme was part of strategies that include quick-fix actions.
He said ” we are aware that after the COVID-19 lockdown , about 5 million children were not attending schools as a result of closure owing to various reasons such as , fear by some parents of their children’s safety in schools, lack of resources to return to school, teenage marriage and pregnancy as well as peer group influence. “
He reiterated that the campaign was to advocate to all education stakeholders, to enlighten and sensitize parents and care givers that government has provided facilities and structures to ensure the safety of every child in schools across the state as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as hand sanitizers, face masks, and soap among others were distributed to all the schools.
The Deputy Governor recalled that the administration of Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya met a dilapidated educational system on ground and declared a state of emergency in the sector, adding that to demonstrate his political will, the administration renovated and remodelled schools, supplied computers and several instructional materials to enhance quality of teaching and learning .
He pointed out that with these activities there was a fair improvement in the result of the students who sat for external examinations in 2019/2020 owing to the reintroduction of mock examination and other strategic steps taken by the administration.
He assured that the government would continue to support students in public schools as well as tertiary institutions on the bases of their academic performance, pointing out, however, that students are expected to be law abiding and pursue their academic activities diligently so as to justify tax payers’ money invested in them.
In his remark, the Commissioner of Education, Mr. Dauda Maaji Batari, appreciated the Governor, the UNCEF and the Federal Government for collaborating on ensuring the success of Back- to- School programme.
The Chairman, State Universal Basic Education Board, Mr. Babaji Babadidi, in his welcome remarks, explained that the ceremony was to mark the Flag off of the development of behavioural change communication message and materials for the gender responsive and inclusive enrollment drive for back to school.
He further stated that the programme is a collaboration between Global Partnership in Education , Federal Ministry of Education and UNICEF , siting out that sixteen states across the country have already commenced the project whereby two local governments are selected from each state for the GOE-Covid-19 Fund.
Mr Babadidi added that the two Local Governments in Gombe are Kwami and Yamaltu Deba where over 2850_Schools are expected to benefit from the programme.
In a goodwill message, the Chief of Field Office, UNICEF Nigeria, Baluchi D- field Office, Dr. Tushar Rane commended the Government of Gombe State for its prompt response to the novel corona virus pandemic in efforts to prevent spread of the disease, through ensuring closure of schools and engaging the public to practice social distancing, stay at home, and practice of personal hygiene to stem the spread of the virus.
Represented by Hajiya Maryama Bukar Dikwa, Dr. Tushar Rane said, working with the established frame work and guidelines provided by FME and UBEC with the funding from the Global Partnership in Education (GPE)and technical support from UNICEF National Country Office, Gombe State Government through the Ministry of Education, developed a work plan on safe school operations for the implementation of back to school campaign aimed at minimising the negative impacts of schools closure,
psychological impacts, gender based violence in schools.
Dr. Nuhu Gbile who spoke for Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, noted that Gombe state has responded positively to mitigating effects of Corona virus through ensuring the protection and safety of lives of people in the state.
He said, they have tested over 52000 people translating to 2% of the total population in the state which is a record achieved as the directive that every state should ensure testing at least 1%.
He added that the state has provided School Safe Spaces in 18 out of the 20 boarding schools in the state, appreciating the Governor and the Deputy Governor who happens to be the Chairman of COVID-19 Quick Response Committee in the state.