Private schools to benefit from COVID-19 intervention funds

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The federal government has approved the inclusion of private schools across Nigeria among the beneficiaries of the funds available to support businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.

Most schools have been shut across the country since March to reduce the spread of the pandemic.

Government had recently announced a N2.3 trillion stimulus package to support businesses just as it also approved a N50 billion single digit loan available through the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Their inclusion is following engagements with the Economic Sustainability Committee of the government chaired by Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo.

National President of the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS), Yomi Otubela disclosed this on Monday during a virtual press conference.

According to him, the justification for requesting palliatives from the government was borne out of the abrupt closure of schools by the government to protect the students in the country from the outbreak of the pandemic.

He acknowledged that the school closure has brought “a lot of untold hardship” to private school owners who rely heavily on school fees to meet up with obligations such as payment of staff salaries, operational costs and repayment of loans obtained from various financial institutions.

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He described the inclusion of private schools in the N2.3 trillion Stimulus package to support businesses as a welcome development due to potential impact of the funds in saving private education sub-sector from imminent collapse as a result of COVID – 19 pandemic.

The private school leader appreciated the government and looked forward to the release of guidelines for private schools to benefit from this support.

Ready for resumption

Mr Otubela reiterated the readiness of private schools to resume for academic activities.

According to him, private school owners have already made adequate provisions to ensure that schools are able to reopen in line with the safety protocols recommended by Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC).

He therefore appealed to the federal government to reconsider its decision to withdraw the participation of Nigerian schools in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) and halt reopening schools due to safety concerns.

He believed that the decision might introduce emotional trauma in SSS3 students.

He added that “For this reason, we will advise the government to deploy the services of Clinical Psychologists to evaluate the state of minds of these students whenever they are ready to sit for these examinations due to mental trauma that will arise as a result of the suspension of these examinations after rigorous preparations by students and knowing full well that their counterparts in other countries will be taking the examination.”

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Also, he expressed fears that Nigerian students may be forced to seek an alternative way of writing these examinations by approaching neighbouring countries.

The private school proprietor also expressed fears that a prolonged closure might make the majority of students lose interest in education and embrace social vices inimical to their wellbeing and public safety as well.

This is as he disclosed that some parents were already requesting a refund of the examination fees, which had already been used to offset registration costs from the exams.

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