School owners in Kwara State have continued to lament their ordeal since the COVID 19 pandemic lock down in Nigeria as affecting the state.
impact of on all facets of life including citadel of learning remains an issue of concern all over as.
Some school proprietor narrated the socio-economic impact of the lock down ranging from outright cut in the source of income which is not reciprocal with outflow of expenditures for example salaries to night guards, school keepers and staff salaries that accrue despite a no work lock down period which is not the fault of the staff especially their teachers.
Aside from the socio-economic impact of the lock down due to COVID 19, school curriculum are also affected as well as the life of the students.
Though the e- learning, Radio and Television options were brought forward by government the question is how realist for parents whose livelihood is affected, how are they supposed to buy data for their family android phones, if they have aside the challenge of epileptic power supply.
These apart, the learning and academic development of pupils are also greatly affected because even if secondary schools are running online teaching the real impact on some pupils who even with physical contact do not learn fast how much more on the online, more or less an abstract medium.
Speaking to our correspondent on how the lock down has impacted on school activities, Mrs Evelyn Balogun, Proprietress of I –Tree International Schools said that the COVID 19 has affected schools in several ways, “Parents have limited teaching skills to cope with all the subjects being taught in schools, Children missed the interpersonal and social skills with their friends and the Teachers miss their pupils.”
She added that “aside from the earlier mentioned impact, private schools are seriously affected for example I have 50 staff and without school fees as our source of income, there is no way that I cannot pay them.”
She lamented that even before the lock down started, some parents were owing for school fees of their wards for the second term wondering what the situation could have become now that these parents income has been affected.
Another school owner, Mrs Folasade Onifade of Wonderland Academy in her account corroborated earlier submission that both teachers and proprietors find themselves in a mess they never prepared for.
She said “We are hungry, we couldn’t get school fees debtors to pay; we are at home, we were hoping to get fees during the examinations but unfortunately we were asked to shut down. Most schools had not paid their staff March salaries talk less of that of April.
Olarotimi Oshin, Proprietor of Greatminds Schools in his own submission added his voice to that of others lamenting how to pay salaries to his teacher since parents are unable to pay school fees .
He is of the opinion that the lockdown should continue till the coast is clear, lthough school proprietors are financially effected but life is more important than money.
He said “ school remain vulnerable to COVID 19 even the higher institutions. I will advice federal and state governments not to think of allowing schools to resume until COVID 19 comes zero level because children are capable of transmitting this virus faster due to the way they interact, even beyond expectation.
Funmi Omisope of The OASIS Academy, TOSA said that she already held a meeting with her staff members over the situation which is not new to them but though the staff settled for 75% cut in the salaries she decided to pay them 50% since she can afford it.
The school owners were unanimous in their advice and request to government on the need for specialized palliatives measure to keep registered schools, who are also tax payers, running since their services compliment that of government owned schools.
Some of the suggestions range from government wading in by speaking with network service providers so that data tariffs can reduce along other charges so that both schools and parents can enjoy the online training sessions without further eating into the already pauperized finances.
Also the idea of grant or interest free loans will not be a bad idea as relief package or palliatives to assist the private school to offset staff salaries and thereby preventing them from downsizing as it can affect their ability to give quality learning and employing people.
They are of the view that downsizing will further pauperize teachers as some of couples are teachers in private schools which will adversely affect the teachers.
Finally, one of the proprietors Funmi Omisope suggested that giving scholarship or outright free education to pupils will lessen the burden of parents.
She said “what I’ll rather ask for is scholarship for 45 of our kids (street kids) into government primary schools around Gambari axis.”
She said that her school is a specialized school in that her priority are street kids most of who are orphans and homeless adding that sourcing scholarship for these kids is her next line of action after the lock-down is relaxed.