COVID-19: Ministry of Education Never Said Schools Will Reopen in November 2020

CLAIM: On April 22, 2020, fact-checkers at the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) spotted a press release stating that the Ministry of Education has ordered the closure of schools nationwide until November 2020 due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The viral press statement dated April 21, 2020, was credited to the Ministry and had what appeared to be the signature of the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu.

VERDICT: False

FACT:

On March 19, 2020, the Federal Ministry of Education ordered the closure of schools across Nigeria following the confirmation of COVID-19 cases in the country.

A review of the Ministry’s website by CDD fact-checkers shows that the Ministry published no press release confirming the said directive.

The press release stated that Mr Sunny Echono, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, confirmed the November reopening to Premium Times, an online Nigerian newspaper. The newspaper’s Managing Editor, Idris Akinbajo, told CDD fact-checkers that the statement is the handiwork of some mischief-makers.

Mr Akinbajo said: “Obviously, what they did is that they took a story which we published late last year, [and] manipulated it to drive their mischief.”

Further proof that this is a doctored statement lies in the fact that a government ministry has never quoted a newspaper in such manner in its press release.

Also, the statement is alleged to have been signed by Adamu Mallam. The Minister’s real name is Adamu Adamu.

During a press conference on the April 21, the Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba, said the Ministry is yet to arrive at a definite date for schools to reopen.

“As soon as we arrive at a definite time, we will communicate that. We will also be looking at what we will do for schools to reopen. As you will recall, we asked that schools vacate in the late part of March as soon as this broke,” Nwajuba said.

He added that the reopening of schools across the nation would be a coordinated effort among all the states as the lockdown will affect how students are expected to attend classes and how the teachers will resume work.

“So, it goes with that saying that nobody can reopen schools now except we coordinate all of that effort,” he said.

Finally, in a statement refuting the claim, Ben Gong, the director of media in the Ministry, said the purported press release is a clear case of forgery.

CONCLUSION

The claim that the Federal Ministry of Education sent out a press statement stating that schools in Nigeria will reopen in November 2020 is false.

CDD urges parents, students, and the general public to disregard the fake release.