Fred Ezeh, Abuja
The National Association of Private School Teachers (NAPST), which is the umbrella body of private teachers in Nigeria, has raised the alarm that things are getting really bad and unbearable for them, financially, due to the prolonged closure of schools as a result of coronavirus pandemic.
The body said that their members are passing through excruciating pains and sufferings as a result of the closure of schools, which led to non payment of salaries and other entitlements due to them, thus soliciting for government and philanthropic interventions for the teachers.
NAPST President, Akhigbe Augustine, who addressed a press conference in Abuja, on Thursday, disclosed that since the closure of schools in March, private school teachers have not been paid their monthly salaries.
He said: “A good number of private school teachers were last paid in February. The closure of schools for the whole of third term of 2019/2020 academic session means that no tuition payment, and obviously, salaries for months running will not be paid also.
“Obviously, private school teachers are facing difficult times with no hope in sight as of when the lockdown on schools will be lifted. The States and Federal Government have not considered private school teachers as a group that deserves palliatives whereas they are in the group of vulnerable Nigerians.
“In reality, over 100, 000 families of private school teachers, most especially where both husband and wife are private school teachers, are unable to feed their families and cannot pay basic bills.
“Private schools in Nigeria do not receive government subventions. They rely solely on tuition payments. More often than not, salaries are not paid as at when due. Hence, apart from underpayment, private school teachers in Nigeria also have to contend with the issue of delay in monthly payment ot their entitlements.
“Some schools don’t pay teachers for the period schools observe holidays. It’s as bad as that. Despite the outstanding contributions of private school teachers to the education sector, they work without gratuity, complete absence of job security, none or irregular remittance of pension deductions, in addition to being exposed to all sorts of unfavorable conditions of service.”
They, however, asked for an interest free loan that would enable them engage in economic activities, with a guarantee to repay the loan as soon as possible. “We appreciate the N50billion COVID-19 intervention fund (single digit loan) approved by Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). But most school owners will not like to access the loan to pay salaries, hence the reason many private school teachers are still suffering,” he said.