By Ebi Perekeme
The Bayelsa State Commissioner for Education, Gentle Emelah has explained why the state government ordered the closure of schools in the state.
Emelah had in a public statement, announced what he called “emergency closure of schools” in the state with effect from October 19, 2020.
According to him, a yet to be ascertained number of pupils were drowned in the flood that wreaked havoc in the oil and gas rich state.
“There is no doubt that this flood has wreaked a lot of havoc in Bayelsa State. It has affected so many things. Animals, especially reptiles are not left out. The natural habitats of these reptiles have been negatively affected. They are therefore looking for where to hide and it is natural for them to get into houses and buildings in the school premises. Many teachers and pupils’ lives have been endangered in the process.
“We cannot continue to endanger the lives of our people in the name of education. Our people need to be alive before they can be educated. We do not want to lose more lives. It is a painful decision because it is not long we resumed academic activities in the schools because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“All schools in the state were closed as a result of the pandemic but we have to do it to safeguard the lives of the pupils and their teachers in addition to other non-academic staff.”
He said the decision is in order to safeguard the lives of the precious students all through the flood season, as such, all schools should strictly adhere to it. “The public should note that the closure of schools will not affect the students taking the ongoing Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) exercise taking place in the state.”
The earlier statement by the ministry titled ‘Emergency Closure of Schools in the State’ and signed by Emelah read: “The government hereby regrets every inconvenience that might come with this new development. We also use this medium to sympathize with all flood victims across the state. We are assuring them that as a people and as a government, we share in their pain and we will continue to do our best to give them our support.
“It is sad that the closure is coming barely a month after we returned from the COVID-19 pandemic break and now we are faced with another natural disaster which has forced us to close down our schools again.”
The commissioner expressed dismay at what he called “highly regrettable and unfortunate” development just as he enjoined all stakeholders to recognise that it was “a price we must pay as a people for our collective good.”
He sought the understanding of the people on the government’s decision to close the schools in what he described as a “trying time” in the state.