Chairman of Delta state chapter of National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS), Deacon Monday Ifoghere, has said that following the lockdown of schools occasioned by the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic, members of the association have been passing through harrowing times to survive.
His explanation may not be unconnected with the fact that private schools are self-funded, the salaries of their staff and all their welfare are sourced from the school fees collected from the students on a termly basis. And since the schools were shut down since March ending, the proprietors have not collected any school fees from their students.
Ifoghere spoke to Emerald News during the launch of an online COVID-19 certificate course organised by the association in Asaba, Delta state capital. The training drew a selection of executive members of the association to the state capital where members had opportunity to listen to an online teacher on COVID-19 issues and how to manage children when schools eventually resume.
The chairman told Emerald News that “some of us have been going borrowing that when schools resume we pay back. Some of our people are buying things on credit. Some of us who are married and their spouses are in other employments, are now relying on them for their survival, otherwise it not funny at all.
“Most teachers are starving. In fact, as we resume, we may start looking for new teachers because many of them have silently resigned from the work. Some are already petty traders while others have gone into farming. Private schools are not paying when the whole place is on lockdown.”
He said since the outbreak of the coronavirus in Nigeria, things have changed, calendars have changed, time tables have changed and that is the same thing with WAEC. He said the WAEC time table has been altered and the university timetable has also been affected.
He said for now everything is on a standstill, adding that WAEC, NECO and NABTEB will need to draw a new timetable when the schools resume
On the possibility of canceling the examination, he said the body cannot call for its cancellation. He, however, expressed fear over the continuation of the examination at the end of the COVID-19, saying: “As for WAEC, we are not sure it will hold. Toward the last quarter of the year, things have not normalized to enable exam to hold, then automatically we can forget SSCE for 2020. As it is now, if between now till next three months, things have not normalized, then the WAEC may not be necessary this year.”
On preparation to handle health protocols in the schools and the fear of parents, he said: “In places with heavy presence of COVID-19, there is fear of parents releasing their children for school. But in states like Delta with more than 5million people and people infected are not up to 200, the state can open their schools. But in places like Lagos, Abuja, Kano, one will have to be careful opening schools in those places.”
He told Emerald News told at resumption, the plan is to run morning and afternoon sessions in schools with large students, saying such arrangement will create opportunity for social distancing in the schools. He added that hand washing apparatus, sanitisers and thermometer machines will be put in place, noting that the school environment will be disinfected and fumigated with the provision of facemasks for the children.
He said for nursery and primary schools, it will be primary 0ne, two and three for morning and primary four, five and six for evening, adding that the same applies to secondary schools where junior will run for morning and senior classes will run for evening. But for those with teachers teaching junior and senior, the management will organize that in a way that it will favour the teachers but social distancing cannot be underrated.
He told Emerald News that the enlightenment programme was on how to prevent COVID-19 infection, maintain good hygiene and able to detect in case a student is infected and the right steps to take to curb spread of the disease in the school.
He said: “The reason why we are doing this is because we handle children. Children are fragile. We ought to know better than them so that we can guide them and the teachers that are working with us. That is the essence of this training. The course is supposed to take two to three hours online.
“If you know the right step to take, within an hour you would have done one course. At the end of the course the online tutor will give you a certificate.
“We, who are owners of these private schools are enlightened and know details of this. If we know all these things it will help us better on how to protect our children and workers from being infected.”
Deacon Ifoghere said NAPPS has members in all the 25 local government areas of the state, adding that the association has over 1.087 member schools with over 70 percent running nursery, primary and secondary schools with a population above 300,000 learners and over 26,000 teachers and caregivers.
He said the schools are in a social development business of nurturing children for future national development, hence the school authorities cannot handle the issue of children’s health carelessly.
He added that the training was to comply with Delta state government’s regulation and mandates as critical stakeholders in the education sector and national development.
He said it is also to understand the novel coronavirus pandemic, mode of transmission, prevention and how to break the chain of infection in schools. It is also to understand the safety practices, personal protective equipment, usage, control, isolation and care of suspected outbreak during school sessions.