Students in Rivers’ public secondary schools are now to attend classes on Saturdays. This is part of a new timetable issued by the State Ministry of Education as schools in the state re-opened for the third term of the 2019/2020 academic year.
After a long closure of schools occasioned by the outbreak of COVID-19 in the state, secondary and tertiary schools re-opened on Monday, October 5.
Aside the Saturday classes, which the state government called “Make-up Classes”, the students are to now to have their classes from 8.00am to 5.00pm.
In the new development which the state government dubbed “Blended Learning”, students in Junior Secondary, JSS 1-2, are to start physical classes from 8.00am and end by 11.00am, Monday to Friday, and are to resume virtual classes at home from 3.00pm to 5.00pm. On Saturday, the junior students are to report in their classrooms for studies that are to commence from 9.00am and end by 12noon.
Then, in a revised order, students in Senior Secondary 1-2, are to start virtual learning at their various homes from 8.00am and wrap-up at 11.00am and report in their classrooms for physical lessons from 3.00pm to 5.00pm. Then on Saturdays, they are expected to be in school for “Make-up Classes” from 1.00pm to 4.00pm.
The Neighbourhood was unable to reach the Rivers State Commissioner for Education, Prof. Kaniye Ebeku, on the development. However, some principals of both junior and secondary schools in Port Harcourt who spoke to The Neighbourhood in confidence as they were not authorized to speak to the media on the matter, wondered how the “Blended Learning” would work in a state where public schools lack basic teaching and learning tools. They also expressed skepticism at the new schedule as they wondered how public schools in rural areas that have no public power would run virtual classes. “Even for those of us(public schools) in the state capital(Port Harcourt), how many have the capacity to run lessons virtually?”, one of the principals asked one of our Correspondents who visited some secondary schools on Tuesday.
Visits made to some private secondary schools in Port Harcourt today, Tuesday, however, showed a different situation. The Neighbourhood saw students of both Junior and Secondary classes in classrooms, learning.
A principal, who is also a school owner in the Rumueme area of the state capital, told The Neighbourhood that the new timetable from the state government only applies to public schools as they have high population of students. “You know that government schools have large students’ population. So, in view of the COVID-19 Protocols, they have to device that new schedule (to manage the situation). But for us in private schools, we have no reason to do that as our students’ population is well within control.”
Early on Tuesday as The Neighbourhood Correspondents took a tour of schools in Port Harcourt, students in certain public schools were seen in clusters around their schools’ gates. Inquiries showed they were students in senior secondary classes locked out but who said they were not aware of the new calendar that keeps them at home until 1.00pm. “We came to school this morning only to be told that we should go home and come back by 1.00pm. And some of us came from far places. So, we decided to wait here by the school gate because if we go home that would be the end of it for today”, a student in SS 2 in one of the most populated secondary schools in the AGIP of Port Harcourt area told The Neighbourhood.
Reports from some Rivers State Government owned secondary schools in some local government areas outside the state capital show that the new schedule had yet to come into effect as of today, Tuesday. Students of both junior and senior classes were reported to be in school and attending to their lessons same time.