Saturday, August 30, 2014

Ebola: Private School Owners, FG on Collision Course

Private school owners in Lagos State and the Federal Government may clash over the latter’s order directing all primary and secondary schools in the country to resume on October 13, 2014, instead of the anticipated September 15.

At a sensitization programme on Ebola which held on Thursday, Punch reports that the school owners, under the umbrella of the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools, believe that the directive is unnecessary.
The Minister of Education, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, had announced the resumption date after a meeting with the 36 state commissioners of education on Tuesday in Abuja. But speaking at the sensitisation programme, the Lagos State President of the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools, Mr. Yomi Otubela, said:

 “We have sent our appeal to the Federal Government through the Lagos State Special Adviser on Public Health informing it that if religious organisations and other places are left open, these children could as well contract the virus there.  
If markets that have more crowd than what we have in schools are not asked to close down, then we wonder why the government will not allow us put preventive measures in place and allow these children return to school. School is supposed to be a place of knowledge and we are to educate and expose them to the knowledge on what they need to know to prevent the spread of the virus, not keeping them out of schools and keeping them ignorant of what is happening.”

The founder of Supreme Educational Foundation Schools, Mrs. Adenike Adamolekun, also said the directive by the Federal Government was senseless.
She said:

 “Just as we are praising the Federal Government for being proactive in containing the Ebola virus, we are also condemning them on this one. It does not make sense at all. Even if they had any doubt, what they needed to have done was to have put together some precautions and extend it to all schools, ensuring that all schools abide by them. Shutting the schools for a whole month, considering the fact they will be shut down next year again because of elections, is a bad idea. Moreover, parents do not know what to do with those kids. I think this is an unnecessary approach to the issue.”
Another school proprietress, Dr. Maggie Ibru, stated that what the Federal Government could have done was to provide hand sanitisers in all private and public schools in the country.
“No, the Federal Government got it wrong on this one because this will not stop the students from participating in international examinations. What the government should have done is to supply all schools with hand sanitisers, both private and public, because who attend the private schools too are Nigerians. 
They should allow the children to go back to school. What to do is simple: the Federal Government could have increased the sensitisation level on Ebola prevention in our schools and if possible, give a directive to all schools not to allow guests enter their premises, or rather mandate every child and visitor be subjected to a test before entering the school premises. These are the measures that the Federal Government should have taken.”

The Special Adviser to the Lagos State Government on Public Health, Dr. Yewande Adeshina, however disagreed with the school owners, asking them to abide by the Federal Government’s directive. She also asked them not to place priority on their financial wellbeing over the physical wellbeing of the school children.

What do you think about the school owners' take? Do you agree with them? -

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