Gabriel Dike, Lagos
The National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS) on Monday expressed concern that some parents are making plans to approach other member-countries of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) for their wards to write the May/June 2020 West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).
NAPPS said its members are fully prepared to reopen schools with various safety materials provided to safeguard the health of individuals within school environments, coupled with strict adherence to safety guidelines.
Addressing newsmen via Zoom in Lagos, NAPPS President Otunba Yomi Otubela warned of avoiding a situation where Nigerian students will be forced to seek alternatives to writing these examinations by approaching neighbouring countries such as Ghana, among other countries, and that it will not be good for the reputation of the country.
According to him, as a result of a prolonged closure of schools, the majority of students may likely lose interest in education and embrace social vices inimical to their wellbeing and public safety.
He said based on the Federal Government’s suspension of the 2020 WASSCE for SS3 students, parents of students in private schools have started to approach the management of private schools demanding the refund of monies paid on behalf of their children to participate in the school examinations they had already remitted to the examination bodies.
Otubela explained that the parents’ reasons are premised on the decision to utilise the refunds to approach other neighbouring countries so that their children can sit for the 2020 WASSCE outside the country.
The NAPPS president said in order to avoid emotional trauma by SS3 students because of the cancellation of 2020 WASSCE, the Federal Government should reconsider its decision and allow Nigerian candidates to write the school exam.
He advised the government to deploy the services of clinical psychologists to evaluate the state of minds of these students whenever they are ready to sit for these examinations due to mental trauma that will arise as a result of the suspension of these examinations after rigorous preparations by them and knowing full well that their counterparts in other countries will be taking the examination.
‘Even though we appreciate the safety concerns of the Federal Government, private schools are fully prepared for safe reopening of schools with investment already made to procure safety equipment as advised by Nigeria Council for Disease Control (NCDC) to ensure the safe reopening of schools nationwide,’ he stated.
On the Federal Government N2.3 trillion stimulus package for private schools and businesses, Otubela said the association engaged the Economic Sustainability Committee on the need to support private schools to cushion the effect of COVID – 19 pandemic on the sub-sector.
‘Our justification for requesting palliatives from Federal Government was borne out of the fact that the abrupt closure of schools by the government to protect the students in the country from the outbreak of the pandemic, unfortunately, brought a lot of untold hardship to private school owners who rely heavily on school fees to meet up with obligations such as payment of staff salaries, operational costs and repayment of loans obtained from various financial institutions.’
He reiterated that private schools are fully equipped to ensure the safe reopening of schools and will appreciate if the Federal Government can reconsider its stand on the suspension of 2020 WAEC, NECO, other examinations for the emotional wellbeing of already traumatised students in the country.
‘Therefore, we are willing to have a meeting with Federal Minister and other stakeholders to assure the Federal Minister of Education of the safety protocols that have been put in place in private schools to ensure the safety of students nationwide,’ he said.