School owners under the auspices of the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools, NAPPS, have called on the government to keep schools open, saying the consequences of shutting them down are more grievous than the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic the government is trying to combat.
This is just as the association said during the closure of schools last year, no fewer than 30 per cent of its members went bankrupt with some putting up their schools for sale.
Speaking during a Zoom meeting with stakeholders and journalists on Thursday, the National President of NAPPS, Otunba Yomi Otubela, noted that the palliatives promised by the government last year under the Survival Fund barely scratched the surface.
“We all heard what UNICEF said a few days ago that schools are not drivers of the pandemic and that keeping the schools locked would do more damage to the society in general than the pandemic we are all fighting. I can say unequivocally that schools are better structured to manage their pupils and students.
‘In big cities like Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano and others, schools come to the rescue of parents by helping them keep their children safe. In NAPPS, our members have put all the necessary facilities in place to comply with the directives of the PTF on COVID-19 and the NCDC.
“While we appreciate the efforts of the government to keep schools safe, we have done a number of things and we suggest the same for public schools. One of which is that there should be strict adherence and enforcement of the safety protocols. Wearing of face masks, use of alcohol-based hand sanitiser, daily reading of body temperature of people, physical distancing.
“Not admitting any sick person into school premises, provision of isolation room in every school in the case of anybody falling sick while in school among others. Public schools that have large student population should adopt staggered resumption and lesser number of teaching hours.
“We also suggest that monitoring teams should go round all schools to ensure compliance and we even want parents to be part of such teams, their children we take care of are also our children, ” he said.
On how much his members lost during the last closure of schools, Otubela said they practically lost all.
“Almost all members ran into financial difficulties. People owing financial institutions and others. I can say close to 30 per cent of our members ran bankrupt. Many put up their schools for sale. We are still collating what our members lost.
“What the government promised to assist us with, that is through the Survival Fund, has not been forthcoming as expected. What some members got is barely able to scratch the surface, we are still waiting, ” he stated.
Otubela opined that there should be a balance between keeping alive and sustaining people’s sources of livelihood.