News / Africa

    Teachers Baffled Over Nigeria School Closures

    A poster providing information on the Ebola virus is shown on the door of the Head of Department of Hospital Services, at the Federal Ministry of Health in Abuja, Aug. 11, 2014.
    A poster providing information on the Ebola virus is shown on the door of the Head of Department of Hospital Services, at the Federal Ministry of Health in Abuja, Aug. 11, 2014.
    Heather Murdock

    Some education officials are baffled by the Nigerian government's decision to delay school openings nationwide in an effort to prevent the spread of Ebola. With only one current case of the disease in the country in a year where hundreds of children have been killed or kidnapped from their schoolhouses why cancel classes for Ebola?

    Most Nigerian children are still on summer holiday. Schools were set to start opening next week. But officials announced Tuesday that classes wouldn’t resume until October 13 at the earliest.

    Although for some education professionals the caution is welcome, the decision has angered parents.

    Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
    x
    Click to enlarge
    Click to enlarge

    More than 1,400 people have died of Ebola in West Africa this year.  Only five of the victims were in Nigeria but many people are still deeply afraid that the disease could spread further.

    According to Rose Kaltun, a senior member of the union that represents public school teachers in Kaduna State, the school delay was part of the Nigerian government’s well-praised rapid response to the Ebola crisis initiated in July.

    “It’s very welcome and we want to appreciate them for that. We should not think it will affect the education of our children. It won’t. It will help us and it will help our children too," said Kaltun.

    But some parents, like mother Ramatu Tijjani, say it makes no sense to keep schools closed.  Tijjani noted that people would still pack into churches, mosques and markets and children would be just as exposed.

    “Places whereby your fellow citizens do their daily activities, but in this regard when it comes to Ebola now, government announcing that ‘Children don’t go to school’? You want them to become dumb?,” she said.

    Other education professionals said keeping schools closed was unnecessary and illogical. Private school owner Murtala Mohammed said the government seems to be contradicting itself by assuring Nigerians the Ebola threat was all but passed on the same day it announced that schools would not open.

    “If this is something to be taken serious the extension of school commencement of the session should not be taken on Ebola anymore,” he said.

    The bigger problem Nigerian schools face, he said, was neglect and insecurity. Nigerian schools were being dragged down by lack of resources, long teacher strikes and declining attendance, he said. Boko Haram insurgents, who have killed hundreds of schoolchildren in their schoolhouses and kidnapped hundreds more have driven some parents to keep their children at home.

    Conversely, he added, declining education was fueling the insurgency.

    “All the crisis happening today, from the issue of kidnapping to insurgency and all of you. When you look at it, it is traceable to education. If someone is not properly educated he can not be productive and therefore he will become a nuisance to society,” said Mohammed.

    Nigerian officials hope Ebola will be out of Nigeria entirely sometime in September if current efforts remain successful. However, with the disease still spreading rapidly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, officials say Ebola still threatens Nigeria and the entire region.

    Ibrahima Yakubu contributed to this report from Kaduna.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora