Sunday Magazine

Continued closure of schools: We‘re dying, teachers cry for help

This is not the best of times for teachers in private schools as the continued closure of schools has continued to take its toll on them.

 

Since the hurried closure of schools in March in order to contain the further spread of the coronavirus pandemic ravaging the world, molders of children in the private sector of education have come under severe hard times.

 

In separate interviews with Sunday Telegraph they lament that other sectors of the economy got palliatives from the government, corporate organizations, individuals and fate based organizations, but none has come to them.

 

“It is the private school teachers that are feeling the heat,” Director of Studies, Champion Group of Schools, Magboro, Ogun State said: “No salary, no money.

 

Those in public schools are being paid at the end of the month. Government gave palliatives to other sectors of the economy, none for us in private schools. It is the little we generate from the on line programmes that we are able to pay them.”

 

Proprietress, Masterpiece Montessori School, Mowe, Ogun State, Mrs. Oludayo Adio, shares her experience: “Since the closure of schools in March, we have not made a single kobo. We have to pay salaries.

 

As a matter of fact, some of us had to source for money from elsewhere to be able to pay in March and April.”

 

Sunday Telegraph leant of a teacher who delivered a baby boy during the lockdown; it took the intervention of the proprietress of the school where she teaches to settle her hospital bill.

 

Also, a teacher took to the social media, forcing himself to hold back tears as the unidentified man in the one and a half minute video clip pleaded for kind hearted individuals to come to the aid of teachers in private schools. But some of them have been thinking outside the box and raising funds to support private school teachers.

 

“Right now, my friends and I are putting together some funds to give to teachers in private schools. We have been able to put together the sum of N350, 000 and we will start giving it out when we hit N400, 000 to give each teacher N5, 000,” Adekeye enthused.

 

But beyond this, another set of Nigerians feelings the heat of the closure are students in terminal classes. “Parents are not feeling what they feel,” Adekeye continued.

 

“The children were literarily chased out of the classroom. They were writing examinations when the order came that we should shut down the schools.

 

“Those of them in SS2 became apprehensive and asked DS (Director of Studies), does it mean we are not coming again? Since then most of them have remained at home. “The parents are not feeling what they feel.

 

It was a great relief when Lagos State announced that schools would reopen partially on August 3. We know it was just a matter of time as Ogun State would follow soon. We were to decontaminate school on Friday.

 

We were told that the Ministry of Environment Certified Fumigators would carry out the exercise. It cost us N400, 000 to decontaminate the compound. Monitoring Committee will come for inspection and demand for certificate.

 

They make it look as if COVID – 19 resides in schools. “They became upbeat and we were looking forward to the announcement.

 

But the announcement on Wednesday by the Minister of Education – Adamu Adamu was like firing an arrow at those children. What next after this? “Psychologically, it is too strong for them to handle. They are the only ones at home. Most of the parents in Magboro axis are weekend parents.

 

They leave home Sunday evenings and return Saturday night. There is no guidance, no relationship with the parents.

 

They do not know who to talk to. “There is case we just resolved. The children just packed from their parents’ home and went to stay in another of their friends.

 

When the parents came back on Saturday night, they could not find them and they went to report to the police that they had been kidnapped.

 

“Another one a final year student in Ibadan, said she is not going back to school. She has learnt a trade which is fetching her money.

 

If she graduates, she would not need the certificate. “The truth is government has no money or does not want to spend to clear the schools.

 

Weeds and reptiles have taken over the schools. Who are those that will clear them? Before, students would have been the ones to clear the weeds. But these ones on resumption are going to write exams.

 

He could not be wrong. Reports have it that it will cost the government N200 billion to reopen the schools. Like somebody asked on a Radio programme: Where will the money come from in this pandemic era?”

 

“My fear for this country is that the generations of children we are raising do not believe in Nigeria.

 

They will one day sit down and divide this country.” Outgoing Vice Chancellor, Al-Hikmah University, Ilorin, Prof. Taofeek Ibrahim, also a parent, hailed the federal government’s decision to shut the schools describing it as apt and sound. He said:

 

“It is not yet safe to reopen schools because of inadequate safety infrastructure in the country.

 

“I urge the federal government to use digital technology to enhance learning during this Covid-19 period as we did in our institution.

 

“Our academic programmes in Al-Hikma University were not affected by Covid-19. We ran online courses as if the students were on campus and examinations were conducted using ICT infrastructure like Zoom and Whatsapp platforms, backed up with voice notes, and it yielded positively for us.”

 

 

Abiodun Bilesanmi, an SSS 3 student, expressed disappointment with the federal government’s decision, particularly to pull out of the WAEC examinations, saying he had fully prepared for resumption and the examinations even before the WASSCE timetable was set.

 

To him, the federal government was confused, wondering why it would announce the reopening and rescind the decision so swiftly.

 

“I am tired of staying at home and doing nothing. It is boring. The government should do something about it quickly,” he said.

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