Many Schools are getting relaxed on safety measures after the ease of lockdown. Should that be a source of concern?
It should be a strong source of concern.
The lockdown was relaxed because Government does not have the capacity to sustain the huge cost involved as more than 60% of Nigerians feed on daily pay jobs. Again, the pressure for businesses to reopen out lobbied the recommendations and position of the health departments. Government therefore relaxed the lockdown with the expectation that the people would embrace the prescribed protocols.
Covid 19 war has not been defeated. The war is still ravaging with the very purpose being to harvest lives and it has the capacity to do just that, however, the war has one weakness – BREAK THE CHAIN OF CONTACT through:
- Use of face mask
- Washing of hands
- Maintain social distancing
As long as covid 19 viruses are still lurking around, we must be awake to the above protocols, especially with new variants springing up around the globe.
What should schools do to protect school children in the face of current security situation in Nigeria?
- It is high time the schools expanded the non-academic staff departments to include the Security Department, with strong liaison with both the state and federal security agencies for quality intelligence gathering. This is so because bandits thrive best when they take their targets unaware.
- Perimeter fence of every school should, as a matter of urgency, be fortified henceforth, with 24 hour surveillance with a view to identifying every encroachment in good time.
- There should be 24 hour presence of state security agents in and around schools going forward.
- Government should ensure that, going forward, Ariel Policing takes a special place, especially around school zones, with a view to forestalling any moves to attack the schools. This could be extended to places of worship.
What would be your advice for school proprietors and management on audit of school buses?
The Drivers and their Assistants must have identifiable references, with a view to ensuring that he/she:
- Does not have any criminal records
- Is not or has not been on drugs or other illegal substances
- Is generally in good health – good mental state, good eye sight, good ears etc
- Must be appropriately licensed to drive the School Bus. In addition, he/she must be exposed to state certified continuous training exercise with LASDRI
The School Buses must meet prescribed standard, via a viz:
- Must be conspicuously marked ‘SCHOOL BUS’ above the wind screen, close to the roof.
- Should have WiFi and tracking devices
- Must be of yellow background with 2 white retro-reflective stripes running from the bonnet upwards across the roof down the back end, for the purpose of proper visibility.
- No Child should be transported on the front seat.
- No overloading beyond the prescribed capacity.
- School bus management should be planned in such a way that school children should not be on the road at ungodly hours – before 6 am.
COVID 19 NEW NORMAL
- Use of face mask
- Make trips brief
- Capacity should be as recommended by NCDC, ideally leave most seats empty.
- Keep windows open
- Maintain good hygiene – washing of hands, use of hand sanitizers etc
In what ways do you think Government can further help in institutionalizing road safety in schools?
ROAD SAFETY EDUCATION
The first is to develop curriculum and introduce Road Safety Education in schools, which mainly involves teaching children to be safer road users. It does so by developing:
• Knowledge and understanding of road traffic
• Behavioural skills necessary to survive in the presence of road traffic
• An understanding of their own responsibilities for keeping themselves safe
• Knowledge of the causes and consequences of road accidents
• A responsible attitude to their own safety and to the safety of others.
ROAD SAFETY CLUBS
Although the main avenue for informing and training children is through schools, the informal system through communities and civil society groups is important as is linking road safety education to drama series and other artistic means. The key recommended approaches are:
• Pre-school training for example through road safety clubs.
• Community education through other extra curriculum programs
• Safe routes to school.