Somebody must make laws and ensure that they are followed because we have many dangerous diseases that WILL harvest our children if we sit and do nothing.
So Ebola came upon us and suddenly we has to close down all schools in the country, potentially for two months — a good measure, most will say.
But why did we have to close them in the first place, to prevent the Ebola Virus disease, which has killed over 1500 people in this outbreak, from spreading into our schools?
It is a good move, because if the disease does get into our schools, especially the public institutions, it would be a disaster.
But beyond preventing Ebola, what are the health standards we hold our schools to in Nigeria?
As kids, we used to have buckets of water in our classrooms and almost every other school had a tap running somewhere from which we refilled our buckets. Teachers required pupils to wash their hands too.
But the story has changed these days
You go to a school and find out that the pupils have to defecate in nearby bushes and there is no water source anywhere near.
In such a setting, especially with students usually cramped in classrooms, the spread of any contagious disease would be rapid. Make that very rapid.
So I think it is time we held our schools to very HIGH health standards:
The availability of water, for carrying out the simplest hygiene activity — washing hands — must not be compromised. Water and soap MUST be available in EVERY school. Agreed, not every school can afford to sink a boreholes. But there are always alternatives. If a school feels the cost of a borehole is not within its budget, then it must be ready to make arrangements for an alternative. Commercial water vendors may then be employed, with a large tank provided in the school compound and at least a bucket and soap in EVERY classroom.
Toilets must also be provided, even if they have to make do with pit latrines. Number of students in the school must be considered.
There must be FIRST AID boxes and at least one room dedicated to students who suddenly fall ill while in school. It should serve as a recovery ward, before they are transferred to proper hospitals, if need be.
A reasonable student-per-class standard must be enforced. For me, anything more than 20-30 students is a crowd. It should be discouraged because such sardine-classrooms where students huddle together exposes them to everything, even ordinary rashes and coughs.
If our children must be saved, somebody must make laws and ensure that they are followed because we have many dangerous diseases that WILL harvest our children one by one if we sit and do nothing.