By Giwa SHILE
Gov. Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa on Saturday said that schools shut on Sept. 29 because of flooding in the state would only reopen when it was safe to do so.
Dickson, who spoke on a live radio programme monitored in Yenagoa, said that this was because of the need to protect the vulnerable children from water-borne diseases.
He said that the Ministry of Education was, however, working toward ensuring that the closure of the schools would not affect the overall performance of students in the forthcoming West African Examination Council-conducted examinations.
The governor said that while the flood had started to recede, the government was more concerned about the health and safety of the children.
He said that the government was taking steps to ensure proper sanitation of all the schools, including the ones that were converted to camps for displaced persons, before children were allowed into them.
“We ordered a forced closure of all schools about a month ago to ensure the safety of the children.
“But now that the flood is receding, we will do everything possible to make our schools habitable before announcing the resumption of schools.
“But let me assure you that, that will not be too long from now.
“The State Ministry of Education is monitoring the water level and making daily reports to me.
“We are not in a hurry to push children who are vulnerable to be exposed to food-related ailments.
“On the issue of the performance of our students in national examinations, I want to assure you that government will encourage all schools to make some adjustments to enable them to make up for lost time,” he said
The governor, who commended the flood victims for their resilience, said the government would do its best to ameliorate the plight of displaced persons and ensure their resettlement into their communities
He called for collaboration in proffering long term solutions to address the flood issue through the dredging of the major rivers, tributaries, shore protection as well as construction of sea walls and shelters.
The governor also announced that he had offered automatic employment to all indigenes of Bayelsa who graduated with first class in their respective areas of studies.
Dickson called on all first class graduates who did not pick the form for the employment process for the 1000 vacancies announced earlier to approach the civil service commission for enrolment into the service.
He said that the automatic employment of first class graduates would be in addition to the 1000 graduates awaiting oral interview to be conducted by the Civil Service Commission.
The governor said that his desire to bequeath a vibrant and productive civil service inspired the decision to engage the first class graduates in the state.