It has been a boom season for tailors who are busy making and mending new uniforms for pupils who return to school tomorrow after almost six months of forced holiday. CHIJIOKE IREMEKA reports
There is no doubt that tomorrow’s school reopening will come at a cost to many parents and guardians as their wards who have been at home for months will require new sets of school uniforms among other things to go back to school.
Of course, this is pertinent as many of the pupils have overgrown their uniforms including their shoes even those who may have paid for their wards’ new uniforms before the lockdown, may perhaps, still have to mend or get new ones.
Thus, it’s time for many tailors, who sew school uniforms and others who mend them to smile to the bank as many uniforms would be put back together or even new uniforms being purchased or sewn for the pupils.
A number of parents, who spoke to Sunday Telegraph said they spent a fortune acquiring new uniforms, shoes, bags, launch boxes, food flasks, plates water flashes and face masks/ shields towards the school reopening, while the tailors said they are making their money.
“Since morning I have been mending school uniforms. I have done like seven people’s own since morning and sewing new ones since last week,” said Friday George on Tuesday evening when the newspaper visited.
According to him, he charges the parents based on the work done. He said while some pay N1, 000 for minor jobs, others whose work are more tedious, part with N2, 500.
He said it is normal that students will put their uniforms in good shape after a long and compulsory holiday occasioned by COVID- 19 pandemic in the country. For Ibrahim Musa, one of the popular Hausa tailors referred to as ‘Obioma’ (Mobile) he has been going from one customer’s house to another in order to mend their wards’ uniforms and other outing clothes. Musa doesn’t sew new ones but shapes oversized clothes and expands the tight ones, which ensure that the students look smart in their new term.
“I charge between N500 and N1, 000 or more depending on the work. People are calling me to sew their clothes as well as torn school bags. That is what I have been doing since this (last) week and I have made up to N9, 000,” he added.
Another tailor, Mrs. Bimbo Adetifa said she has been making and mending new uniforms for students since it became clear that they students were going back to schools. “I have been loosening the tight gowns for girls and adding extra material to loosen the clothes where necessary.
For some people, their clothes are too tight while others’ are now short,” she said. “I do as low as N200 job but where I need to charge more I will. If I am to buy materials to add in their uniform, they have to pay for it, then I will charge for my work. “Everything just depends on what the customer wants. I have made N11, 500 on amendments alone,” she added.
Mr. Nelson Obaru, who woke up to discover that his son had out grown his uniform and shoes said he had to cough out N8, 000 for shoes and N12, 500 for a new set of uniforms, totaling N20, 500 for one child.
The father of four said he had to buy shoes for his four children and two sets of uniforms while he mended two other uniforms to size. “Children have been at home eating, sleeping and getting fat. So, it’s normal to see that they have grown so big that their shoes and clothes will not size them again.
So, it is normal; it comes with school resumption especially after a long vacation,” he said.
He noted that the children may put one under pressure to buy this and that because they are going to new classes, saying that the demands are not though not advisable for one to empty his treasury as the year has been trying to do.
However, parents and guardians have been advised not to over stretch their budget as the new academic session is not synonymous with new shoes and bags, especially in the current harsh economy due to the COVID-19 induced lockdown.
They are advised to teach their wards how to live within their means, saying that a neat child will always be neat whether their school uniforms are old or new. “What steps have the schools taken to ensure the safety of students?
How will the school support the mental health of students and combat any stigma against people who have been sick? How will the school refer children who may need referrals for specialised support?” In the meantime, some parents have said they are not yet ready to allow their wards go back to school just yet.
There is the fear of uncertainty among some parents and guardians, which has made them to decide not to release them for to go to school until 2021. This is to ascertain that the issues around COVID-19 would have been resolved considerably.
These parents and guardians believe that what the students will lose in the remaining three months towards the end of the year, will be insignificant, compared to what they lost in the past four months of the lockdown.
Mrs. Grace Egbuchunam, a teacher and a mother of three, said she is not ready to release her children for school this year until 2021. She said she will only allow them to return to school next year when she would have been convinced that it is safe for her children to be in school.
“I want to first of all see what the reopening is like this year before I can give it a nod. I will teach them for the remaining months of this year and if by next year their schools refuse to promote them to the new classes, I will change schools for them,” she said.
“It is better to have them around me uneducated than sending them to school to die. God forbid. You can’t control these children and I do not know what effective measures that have been put in place for the reopening,” she added. For Dr. Obiora Cynthia, she prefers that the schools reopen next year, instead of this year, saying that she’s scared of the disease, seeing what it has caused the country.
She said: “I don’t want schools to resume this year. I prefer next year. However, if the government is serious about reopening the schools, I will not allow my daughter to go back since she is on board. “I thank God that Ogun State is yet to say something about reopening of tertiary institutions because my only son attends Covenant University.
To be frank, I will not release my daughter who is in JSS 1. I don’t have the strength to carry pregnancy again.” A lawyer, Felix Obuseh said he has not decided whether to let his children back to school or not, saying that is a decision he is yet to take pending the situation in the country as resumption approaches. He noted that the daily new cases of COVID- 19 will determine his action, saying that his wife doesn’t want schools to reopen this year.
Friday George said if his child’s school refuses to make use of infrared thermometer at the school’s entrance to determine every child or parent’s temperature coming into the school, his children will not go to school till next year. “At first, they will not return to school. I need to see measures that have been put in place first. I want to wait and see how it is working before I can risk sending my children to school. Nigerians are not serious people and I need to do what I have to do to protect my children.
“Children are boisterous and once one of them picks up the virus; be sure that everybody in that school will be infected because their play knows no bounds. So, I’m not in a hurry to release them for academic activities now.”
According to a teacher and admission agent, Mr. Ralph Jones, a number of parents are calling his school, seeking for more time to adjust before sending their children to school, owing to the safety of the children and financial crisis in the country. “I suspect that a number of them will not reopen this year. The economy is bad and people have rents and school fees to pay. At the end of the day, they will choose between the most pressing need and the less need,” he said. “Even the teachers saying that they are ready, I don’t know how they want to do it. We like coding things in this country.
But by and large, they will make decisions from the options they have. Not all students will return.
Some will wait till next year,” he added. However, Sunday Telegraph’s investigation revealed that this decision of not releasing their wards to school this year is not only for the sake of contracting the infectious disease, but also due to paucity of funds to feed their families and take care of the school fees and other responsibilities.
While some are scared of their children contracting COVID-19, others are scared of school fees since their businesses have not picked up amid one-day-in-one-day-off market schedules in Lagos.
A Lagos-based gospel singer, Pastor Dayo Eke, said his reason for not wanting the schools to resume now is due to school fees which he said is not available and may not be available soon to see his three children back to school.
He said: “I have been praying that schools should not reopen this year again. My rent is due for repayment but I don’t even have the money yet and if school reopens, I will be under intense pressure to pay school fees and other unnamed fees.”
Also, Mr. Jideofor Nelson whose wife was yet to pay the balance of her fee at Iyi-Enu Basic School of Midwifery, Anambra State, said his wife may not go back to school this year for lack of money.
He noted that he has a rent of N750, 000 to pay before the end of September, saying that combining both will deal a great blow on him since his business has not bounced back.