Teachers under private schools across Nigeria have been identified as the worst hit by the current schools’ lockdown occasioned by the global coronavirus pandemic.
This is according to the Proprietor, Gran Hermano Academy, Chijioke Nwajioha who spoke to TNC correspondent who monitored resumption of school activities for exit classes in Anambra State.
Over the past three and half months, schools across Nigeria have been shut down as part of measures to flatten the curve of the pandemic.
While government school teachers did not really face many difficulties as a result of the lockdown because they were paid all through, same is not the case for their private schools counterparts most of whom went all through the period without pay.
According to Nwajioha, it became very difficult for the private school owners to sustain payment for the teachers not only because they did not offer any value but mainly because the schools recorded no revenue during the period.
“Majority of private school owners do not have the capacity to pay their teachers. Most of the schools have only school fees payment as the only means to generate revenue for the running of the school and with the closedown of the schools, it has become difficult for them. No proprietor will continue to dig deep into their pockets and continue to pay those that are not rendering any services that yield revenue. It is a waste of resources. As such, the teachers had to stay for the past three months plus without pay because they are not doing anything else,” he said.
The educationist who said he is in support of ongoing discussions between the Association of Proprietors of Private Schools and the Federal Ministry of Education on how to assist the private schools with financial palliative, however, expressed doubt as to the formulae to be deployed in ensuring that whatever government avails are distributed equitably across all the schools.
He, therefore, advocated that government evolves a pragmatic way to reach out to the private school teachers in terms of provision of palliative to cushion the effect of the lockdown on them and their families.
“That is the area I want the government to come in. For the fact that these teachers pay their taxes, they should not be allowed to fry in this time of disruption. The government must as a matter of responsibility which they owe these teachers as citizens, come to their rescue and not be left alone. I believe this is what government is established to do and they cannot fail now,” Nwajioha noted.
On the directive by Federal Ministry of Education to reopen schools for exit classes on Tuesday, the Gran Hermano Academy owner said they are complying fully with the protocols established by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC and World Health Organisation, WHO, for the safety of teachers and students.
“I believe the measures we were asked to put in place is for the overall good of the school, the children and the teachers. Coronavirus is a global challenge and even in developed countries, we have seen the havoc wrecked by the virus. So, when the Nigerian government says schools should pay heed to safety measures, only irresponsible school management will do otherwise. I, therefore, commend the efforts of government at getting schools to comply with COVID-19 protocols and for us at Gran Hermano, compliance with the directives is not negotiable,” he stressed.
Nwajioha dissociated himself from the clamour by some quarters for full commencement of academic activities for all classes, maintaining that children, as feeble minds must be handled with care.
According to him, the resumption of exit classes will be used by the government as a test case to determine how the rest of the classes will key in.
“It is not a matter of rushing into things. We must get it right to be able to secure the lives of these young ones. The government took the right decision to reopen exit classes first and from there, we can take off. I know very soon, full academic activities will commence but we must not sacrifice expediency and due process on the altar of urgency,” he concluded.