COVID-19: Imo State Government Says Private Schools Will Pay For Fumigation Of Their Environments

Preparatory to the reopening of schools for children in transition classes, the Imo State Government, Southeast Nigeria, says private schools will pay for the fumigation of their premises to ensure the safety of pupils and teachers.

The Commissioner for Education, Prof. B.T.O. Ikegwuoha, made the plan known in Owerri when he addressed newsmen on preparations for the conduct of the Senior Secondary School Examination and similar tests for children in examination classes.

The commissioner said private schools would pay government designated fumigators to get their school environments fumigated, adding that “this is the only way their candidates can be part of the school resumption.”

“Why they must collaborate with government designated fumigators is to guarantee standards.

“We can’t have a situation where the school owners may endanger the lives of our children by hiring cheap fumigators, who may use water and detergent only in the fumigation, just to economise cost,” he said.

Ikegwuoha said it was the responsibility of the state Ministry of Education to regulate all schools within the state and so it must not fail in its responsibility.

The commissioner said the state government would not provide palliatives for private school teachers and owners, considering that the schools were businesses and giving them palliatives and leaving out other private businesses was irrational.

He said it was regrettable that most private schools neither paid taxes nor renew their licenses and wondered where the government would get money from to give them palliatives.
Commenting on the Federal Government’s planned palliatives for private schools, the commissioner said the ministry would monitor its implemenation to ensure that only those who paid taxes and had their workers enrolled in the contributory pension scheme benefitted.

With regard to public schools, the commissioner said the government would provide sanitary materials such as soap, water, buckets, han sanitisers, among others for the use of teachers and students.

Ikegwuoha said only final year secondary school students would be allowed to resume for now to enable effective monitoring and social distancing in line with COVID-19 safety protocols.

“With only the WAEC (West African Examination Council) class, it will be easy to monitor students to avoid much contacts,” he said.

“With the infrared that will be provided, students will be tested for fever and those with high fever and other sicknesses will be taken care of by the medical experts that will be on ground,” the commissioner said.

Since March, schools in Nigeria have remained closed and government warned private schools not to demand third term fees from their pupils nor conduct examinations for them.

Teachers in private schools, highly underpaid, have remained without salaries since.

In families where couples both work in such establishments, the members have continued to live at a subsistence level and are hardly able to provide basic needs, such as feeding and healthcare, especially for children.

The situation had generated huge concern with the school appealing for intervention.

Last week, the President, National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools, Chief Yomi Otubela,
said the Federal Government might take over thecpayment of their outstanding salaries.

Otubela who spoke at a Zoom conference, explained that the salaries would be paid from the N2.3 trillion stimulus package recently approved by the Federal Government to support businesses, including private education sub-sector.

Additional reporting by Chukwudi Ekezie

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