Owners of private schools in Nigeria have beckoned on the government to stat start the gradual reopening of schools. Using their mouthpiece, NAPPS (National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools) President, Chief Yomi Otubela, the concerned citizens suggest that the certificate examination classes -Grade 6, JSS 3 and SS3 – should be asked to resume first.
Adding to that, the boss has it that the regions with very low record of the pandemic cases or where the active cases have reduced should have their schools reopened. According to the association, more than a million Nigerians working in the private schools are facing serious economic challenges more of the threats from OVID –19 pandemic.
As said by the group, reopening of the school would put an end to the disruption in the system and allow final year students prepare for their exams.
Nevertheless, NAPPS added that adequate precautionary steps and sensitisation should be put in place to safeguard the health and safety of teachers and students.
In the words of Chief Otubela, “Education sector appears to be one of the worst-hit sectors by the COVID -19 pandemic due to abrupt closure of schools.” He stressed that tt is reported at the peak of the pandemic that over 1.2 billion children globally were forced to stay at home due to the pandemic with most of them resorting to remote learning as a strategy to satisfy the educational needs of the learners.
He added that in Nigeria, where private education contributes meaningfully to the education of the youngsters , it has become worrisome that this vulnerable private education sub-sector whose income largely depends on school fees payment but has continued to bear the pains of the continued closure of schools will be neglected from palliatives programme of the government at this perilous time. Thus, it is in recognition of this fact that NAPPS – which is the umbrella body for the private school owners in Nigeria with a membership that cuts across all states of the federation at different fora and avenues – consistently clamoured for financial palliatives from the federal to bail out the sub-sector from imminent collapse.
The school owners boss opined that with 34.6 million pupils/students in 83,524 private schools in the country, and a staff strength of 1,000,143, the sector ought to be encouraged by the government and not allowed to suffer unduly. He further said that apart from paying fees and levies to the government at various levels, his members pay over N24 billion monthly as staff salaries. He therefore called on the government to help his members through the provision of educational grants, interest-free loans, suspension of interest on existing loans, suspension of taxes and dues for the time being among others.