Private school owners in the country under the aegis of the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools, NAPPS, have called on the Federal Government to embark on a gradual reopening of schools in the country, beginning with students in terminal classes such as primary 6, Junior Secondary School Class Three and Senior Secondary School Class Three.
However, the school owners, who spoke through their National President, Chief Yomi Otubela, in Lagos yesterday, suggested that states with low incidence of Coronavirus outbreak or where the figures of cases are going down, should have their schools reopened first.
This is just as the body noted that over one million teaching and non-teaching staff in private primary and secondary schools are facing serious economic challenges occasioned by the threat posed to their jobs by the fallouts from COVID-19 pandemic.
The group said the reopening of the school would put an end to the disruption in the system and allow final year students to prepare for their exams.
NAPPS, however, added that adequate precautionary steps and sensitization should be put in place to safeguard the health and safety of teachers and students.
“Education sector appears to be one of the worst-hit sectors by the COVID -19 pandemic due to abrupt closure of schools. It is reported at the height of the pandemic that over 1.2 billion children globally were out of the school system due to the pandemic with most of them resorting to remote learning as a strategy to meet up with the educational needs of the learners. “In Nigeria, where private education contributes significantly to the education of the children, 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 program of the government at this critical period.
It is, therefore, in recognition of this fact that the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (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 clamored for financial palliatives from the federal government to bail out the sub-sector from imminent collapse,” he said.
Otubela 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 added that apart from paying fees and levies to the government at various levels, his members pay over N24 billion monthly as staff salaries.
The NAPPS boss, 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.