National Association Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS), Ogun state chapter yesterday expressed their dissatisfaction at the Federal Government’s decision to extend school resumption date by a month over the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).
It would be recalled that the Federal Government had last week announced an extension for both public and private schools across the country, citing the spread of the deadly Ebola Virus.
Schools in the country are presently on long vacation holiday and are supposed to resume by mid September but the Federal Government announced the extension till 13 October 2014.
It also stated that the date is still tentative as it may be reversed or extended pending the research and results gathered over the virus.
The group argued that the decision of the Federal Government to extend the resumption date was a risk to the academic future of the children.
The condemnation was part of a communique at the end of the association’s executive Committee meeting held at its secretariat in Abeokuta,the state capital.
At a Press conference after the meeting, state chairman of the association, Dr. Abayomi Jiboku, posited that, if the closure is genuine, there was no reason why other sectors which include tertiary institutions, churches and mosques among others were not closed.
Jiboku argued that the mentioned institutions converge large number of people more than schools.
According to him, “following the Federal Government directive that all schools should provide anti-Ebola materials before resumption, the private schools are ready, hence, there is no need to prevent schools from resuming on the earlier resumption date.
“Those that are falling victims of ebola virus attack have not been children, they are adults. In Lagos state, we have not recorded any attack on children. In Rivers state, we have not recorded such, even, the man that brought it into the country was a medical doctor, an adult,” he explained.
The association added that, “To us, that arguments lacks merit. To us, that arguments is irrational, I will like to take up government on that. If primary and secondary schools are been targeted, why are other sectors of the economy excluded? Why are universities not closed down? Why are churches and mosques not closed down after all these churches and mosques are places of worship where we have thousands and hundreds of people that are worshipping and can easily interact with themselves freely like the students do.
“We don’t even have as many students in schools as we have them in large churches and mosques. Why up till now, is inter-state transfer still being encouraged? The nearest state to us in Ogun state where the virus outbreak has occurred is Lagos state but Lagos citizens are still moving to other parts of Nigeria. They are allowed freely to move to other parts of Nigeria. Why have our borders all across the country open? Even with the threat of this virus, people can move in and out of Nigeria,” Jiboku argued.
The association asserted that they agreed with the Federal Government directives of schools sending some teachers for training on anti-Ebola prevention and the purchasing of the machines for the trained personnel.
“Among the directives given at the National level by the Federal Ministry of Education, is that every primary and secondary schools should send two teachers through the local zonal education officers to the ministry for training and that these two would be the ones that will be seeing to the prevention of Ebola among the students.
“Government is also expecting from us that certain facilities would have to be put in place. Among which are the two machines which they said those two trained personnel will have to use in testing
for ebola virus among the students and we are told now that those machines will have to be purchased by each school in Ogun State at a cost of N6,000 which means each school must subscribe N12,000 to purchase the two machines.
“We identify with these directives all in a bid to ensure that there is no spread of this virus among our students. We were told that one of the reasons for the extension of resumption is to ensure that all schools have made available in their schools those facilities and the trained personnel before reduction.
“If that is the case, then what I think the Federal Government should do is to insist on the schools ensuring that these facilities are in place before school resumes. Those of us in the private sectors can do this with immediate effect.
“We have the resources to do this. We are not going to apply to any Commissioner for Education for money before they can approve all of those facilities in place. We spend our money. If that is the case, we are saying that private secondary schools must be treated separately from public schools. We are ready to comply with the national directives, we assure government that as soon as our personnel are trained, private schools in particular should be allowed to resume and we are expecting this to happen soonest.
“It will be very disastrous for the education sector of this country, even when students are going through the proper period, we are talking about mass failure. Let Federal Government tell us what it wants, we are assuring them that in the private sector, we will put all this in place within the shortest time and that should not affect the academic calendar of our children. The machines and personnel depend on government. We cannot put the machines in place unless there are people to operate them.
“Once those personnel are on ground, we are ready to buy the machines, even though, we heard that in Kaduna state, the machines were supplied free to all schools and we heard that the machines were supplied to us in Nigeria by United States Government free. So, if government is saying we will pay N6,000 to purchase it, we are ready to comply,” Jiboku assured.