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Over 30% of Nigeria’s private schools still in total lockdown ― NAPPS  

Umah Muhammed
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More than 30 per cent of private primary and secondary schools in the country were unable to reopen last year even after the government had given permission for all schools to reopen for academic activities before they all went on break in December for the yuletide.

National President of National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS), Mr Yomi Otubela, gave the revelation on Thursday at a virtual press conference held via Zoom with all leaders of the union nationwide in attendance.

He said the schools concerned which are scattering across the country were unable to reopen just because of the huge financial difficulty they faced due to recession brought about by COVID-19 pandemic and general lockdown which he said prevented them from earning incomes.

According to him, private schools lost all during the general lockdown as some of the operators who are our members are still in huge debt that they don’t know how to settle their debts and some in rented apartment have also been ejected by their landlords because they could not pay their old rent let alone renew same for continuous use of their facilities.

He said private schools cannot afford to be closed down again like that of last year otherwise majority of them would be out of business which he said the country won’t be able to cope with.

He said though to be alive is very important, implications of another round of long schools closure and other businesses, on livelihood, especially in Nigeria where government support to the poor is almost nothing, would kill more than COVID-19 itself.

He noted that up till now, only about two per cent of private schools nationwide had so far been given survival funds by the Federal Government despite the money is small.

He said some of their members actually died during the lockdown not from COVID-19 complications but due to poverty and trauma.

He said Federal Government would need to keep schools open across the country as many Nigerians are now more informed and educated on the virus and the precautionary measures to be taken to prevent its spread.

He said what the government and relevant authorities would need to do in addition is to monitor schools and enforce compliance with already well-publicised COVID-19 protocols and guidelines.

The NAPPS boss said at worst, various state governments could come up just as many of them did last year with staggering reopening of schools where some students attend schools in the morning and others in the afternoon or alternative days of the week, especially for public schools with a huge population of students while this may not apply to private schools due to what he called a manageable number of students per school and better facilities.

He said the reduction in hours of learning within the school environment and to be complemented with online learning to reduce the probability of exposure to the virus would also help even as vulnerable children who may have difficulty engaging in remote learning due to lack of devices or quiet space to study should also be taken into cognizance.

He explained further that schools are also becoming rescue place, especially in the cities to keep children safe for many parents pending their return from work later in the day.

“So, it is advisable and far better to allow schools to open on Monday, January 18, as already scheduled by various state governments while all non-pharmaceutical COVID-19 protocols are implemented rather than to close them,” Otubela emphasised.


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