Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
Scores of parents of children attending private schools in Ogun state, on Sunday, protested government’s decision to charge the JSS Three and SSS 3 students before testing them for COVID-19 ahead of their resumption on Tuesday.
The parents, who had besieged the MTR Specialist Hospital, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, venue of the test, queried the rationale behind the levy which they described as “not only exorbitant but uncalled for”.
They demanded why the state government would impose such levy on students of private schools, while their counterparts in public schools were tested free of charge.
The protesting parents further argued that COVID-19 test shouldn’t be made compulsory for students, since the state government had instructed all schools to make adequate provisions for testing of their students before they resume in their respective schools.
Speaking on behalf of the protesters, the Vice Chairman, Parents Teachers Association (PTA) in one of the private schools, Kehinde Sanwo, flayed the state government for discriminating between students in public and private schools, saying “they are all children of the state that should be treated equally”.
“The parents here are good citizens of Ogun state and we are tax payers. When we arrived here this morning, we were told to pay N25,000. Whereas, some people who arrived earlier paid nothing. So, we don’t know where the decision came from. Some of us have more than two children in the same or different private schools. This is indeed a disheartening development”, she declared.
The Director of Public Health, Ogun State Ministry of Health, Dr. Olukayode Soyinka, while speaking with newsmen at the venue of the test, said he was not aware of the N25,000 COVID-19 test levy on private schools students.
Soyinka said the test before now had been free, explaining that he was just instructed by the State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Tomi Coker, to make himself available at the venue to provide conducive environment for the students.
He, however, disclosed that the test was organized by the state government in conjunction with a private laboratory company, 54gene, under the Public-Private Partnership arrangement.
One of the officials of the laboratory company declined to speak with journalists, claiming that he lacked power to speak to the media.
He explained that his company’s activities at the test venue had the approval of the state government.