*As NAPTAN threatens to sue Ogun over N25,000 COVID-19 test charges
Final year secondary school students on Monday resumed in Lagos State to begin preparations for this year’s West African Secondary School Certificate Examination, WASSCE, billed to start on the 17th of this month.
iBrandTV investigations show that most private and public schools managed to meet the health and safety conditions stipulated by the government to prevent the spread of Coronavirus disease in the country.
Although, Personal Protective Equipment, PPE, demanded by the national leadership of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, were missing on staff of schools visited.
At Surulere Senior Secondary School, Alagbado, our correspondent met three staff members with Infrared thermometers at the gate, checking the temperatures of staff and students as they come in.
Two hand washing facilities were also installed near the gate for people to wash their hands. Two other hand washing points were located in the premises, while the entrance of each class has a bucket converted to a handwashing facility and a hand sanitiser placed on top.
Students were not allowed in unless they had their nose masks on.
The Principal, Dr Mrs Olufunmilayo Ojiba, refused to comment on the situation.
It was gathered that the school has only 96 SSS 3 students and they have been divided into four classes to allow for social distancing.
On how to take care of any emergency, it was learnt that a nearby state-owned health centre could come to the rescue when necessary.
At Grimes International College, also in Alagbado, each student was given free nose mask to complement the ones they brought from home.
The Proprietor, Mrs Gladys Grimes, said her final year student are 34 and are divided into three classes.
The school has a sick bay.
At Lawrence Private School in Ajasa, enlightenment banners about COVID-19 pandemic and safety measures to be taken were placed at the gate and other conspicuous points in the premises.
Commenting on the development, the Lagos State Chairman of NUT, Otunba Adesina Adedoyin, said an assessment of the first day of resumption would not be enough to pass judgement.
“We have gone round some schools and I have also sent some officials of the union to go round the six education districts in the state. It may take some days to really be able to do a thorough assessment of the situation, but we can say that the government has tried to put in place some safety measures in the public schools visited.
“We hope that everything works out well and there are no hitches or negative fallouts from this phased opening of schools. As teachers, we are always ready to do the job we are paid to do, only that we want the safety of all stakeholders to be guaranteed,” he stated.
NAPTAN on COVID-19 test charges
In a related development, the National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria, NAPTAN, has threatened to sue the Ogun State Government over the mandatory COVID-19 test it is making senior secondary school 3 students to undergo for which they are charged N25,000 each.
NAPTAN President, Haruna Danjuma, in a chat on Monday, decried the situation in which students in private schools are compelled to pay the N25,000 for the test, while the government said it is paying for their colleagues in public schools.
Danjuma described the situation as not only abnormal but a sort of discriminating against students in private schools.
“This is also a breach of agreement. In the first instance, parents of the affected students have long paid the examinations fees of their wards and other sundry fees. If the students had sat for the examination as expected earlier in the year, would they be asked to pay for this?
“It is also very unfair for the government to say it is paying the test fees for students in public schools only, why the discrimination? Are students in public and private schools not our children and also Nigerian citizens? If there is any need for paying such charges, the government should take responsibility and pay for all.
“We will not take it lightly if any of the students are denied the opportunity to sit for the coming WASSCE because of this test and the attendant charges. We may take the government to court. The government should not shy away from its responsibility,” he said.
Danjuma noted that the action of the government was like putting more burdens on the parents whose children are affected.
“We all know the impact of this pandemic on the national economy and the pockets of individuals. Everybody is pressed to their limits and asking people to pay this much is too demanding and is like adding to the yoke people are carrying already. It is advisable for the government to have a rethink about this policy,” he stated.
Last Sunday, parents of affected students took to the streets of Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, to protest the action of the government.
They expressed disgust that while their own wards would pay for the test, their colleagues in public schools would not, as the government said it would bear the cost of students in its schools.
However, the Special Adviser to the Governor, Basic and Secondary Education, Ronke Soyombo, said the requirement for the test was based on the guidelines jointly developed and agreed to by parents, private school owners, government representatives
and other stakeholders.
Soyombo noted that the presentation of certificate of ‘negative COVID-19 test’ would be required before a student is admitted to the boarding facility in both public and private schools in the state.