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Goodnews: NUC Gives Institutions Greenlight To Reopen Varsities

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Abuja – There are indications that universities across the country might soon resume academic activities, following a fresh directive from the regulatory agency, the National Universities Commission (NUC) to Vice-Chancellors.

INDEPENDENT spotted a memo to that effect on Tuesday, which emanated from NUC, signed by Chris Maiyaki, Director, Directorate of the Executive Secretary’s Office, which suggested that since the curve of coronavirus infections was declining, it is relatively safe for reopening formalities to commence.

Recall that the federal government ordered the closure of schools for the period of one month after the declaration of the Covid-19 pandemic, earlier in March 2020 before making the closure indefinite in May 2020.

However, while the government is perfecting plans to reopen universities, the Academic Staff Union of Universities ASUU, has been opposed to the decision partly because of discrepancies in the implementation of the Integrated Personnel Payroll and Information System IPPIS.

Both ASUU and other sister Unions within the university system have threatened to commence strike once the Federal Government settles for a tentative date for tertiary institutions to reopen.

While ASUU has reneged in enlisting its members in the IPPIS scheme, other Unions which heeded the government directive have been complaining of shortages in their wages, including statutory allowances.

In a memo addressed to the vice-chancellors, NUC noted that steps have been taken towards the reopening of tertiary institutions in Nigeria following a significant decline in the number of recorded cases of the virus in the country.

According to the memorandum, universities in Nigeria can now conclude their resumption arrangements as long as they are in line with NCDC guidelines and other existing NUC assurance and guidelines.

“Following the recent press briefing by the Presidential Task Force Team on COVID-19, to the effect that significant deadline in the reproduction number (R-value) for COVID-19 has been recorded in the country, the Federal Ministry of Education has accepted the request of the National Universities Commission for Universities to firm up arrangement towards the immediate resumption of academic activities,” it noted.

It also instructed that the universities should expect inspection visits from staffs of the commission and the ministry of education for on-the-spot assessment of physical facilities like the lecture theatres, accommodation, healthcare facilities.

“Universities must continue to adhere to the safety protocols and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) guidelines which are very much in force. The decision to re-open institutions should not, in any way, diminish the importance attached to full compliance.

“The virus is still potent and there is no cure as at yet; Universities must under no circumstances, violate the full cycle of the semester system, consistent with the National Universities Commission (NUC) approved Benchmark Minimum Academic Standard (BMAS); Universities are to ensure strict compliance with other extent NUC quality assurance standards and guidelines;

“A joint inspection team comprising staff of the National Universities Commission (NUC) and the Federal Ministry of Education (FME), will be undertaking verification visits to inspect the reopened Universities and their level of compliance with the Quality Assurance/Safety standards.” it said.

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