COVID-19: Concerned parents want govt to bail out private schools

Pupils on the assembly at St Augustine Primary School, Ikot Omin, Cross River State

A nongovernmental organisation named Concerned Parents and Educators (CPE) initiative has challenged governments at the federal and state levels to come to the aid of private schools amidst the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19).

It also challenged the position of some state governments against the use of online learning to replace the third term 2019/2020 session resumption.

These are contained in a statement on Thursday signed by the group’s coordinator, Mrs Yinka Ogunde.

“We are worried that these responses are so varied that they may not provide enough guidance to all of us,” the statement read in part.

The authorities in Lagos State, Rivers State and the Federal Capital Territory have on separate occasions also faulted school owners who might want to charge fees during the lockdown.

These governments have earlier introduced e-learning platforms and many others have educational lessons on radio and television.

The CPE reminded governments of the enormous role private schools play and called for support for them in meeting the needs of staff salaries and other costs.

Read the rest of the statement below.

“The private sector in education more than fills the gap in Nigeria…it provides opportunities to the children who live in isolated communities and would otherwise have no access. It provides globally competitive platforms at the high end and showcases what the Nigerian child can do.

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“It provides for the international community by absorbing children of expatriates who bring certain required skills to different aspects of our economy.”

“How then is the private sector not considered in our decisions?

“Why is the government not providing bailouts to the private schools so their staff can be paid?

“Is anyone listening to the cry of this sector that provides for at least 35% of Nigerian children? Or do they not matter?

“We want to call on the Minister of Education and all Commissioners of Education to work closely with private Educators and parents on this issue in the best interest of the Nigerian child.

“We believe that the Government must act in a way that shows consideration for all our Children.

“For several decades, the Private education sector has effectively complemented the effort of Government to provide Education for all. This is a service that must be taken into consideration at this time and we must all work in the best interest of our children.

“We commend the Government for taking steps to ensure the safety of all our children and we agree that everyone must wait till we get the ‘all clear’ message before opening the doors of our Schools.

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“We however believe that learning must go on and must be encouraged at all levels. This does not mean that the third term must commence immediately but Schools and parents who can afford the additional expenditure of online classes must not be discouraged. This is the path to the future. The world is being transformed and we must ensure we raise children that will understand the dynamics of this change.

“Finally, we commend the radio/television initiative of Government but we hope that individual Schools will also be encouraged to find ways of staying connected with their pupils/students at this time.

“We implore the Government, to support online learning and allow Private Schools to continue to seek creative ways of engaging their students.”

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