Okon Bassey in Uyo
Proprietors of private schools in Akwa Ibom State have kicked against the guidelines given by the state government for reopening of schools in the state over COVID-19.
The Chairman, National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS), Akwa Ibom State Chapter, Mr. Udofia Davies said the conditions set by the state government were tough and difficult to comply with.
According to him, schools in the state were expected to provide temperature testing machines, preparation of isolation centres, fumigation of school premises, provision of hand sanitizers among others conditions before opening.
He argued that schools in the state were closed in the month of March on the eve of the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic and wondered who contaminated the school compounds before it could be fumigated for reopening.
“We have been at home for four months now unlike the public schools that whether you go to work or not the government pays them.
“We have not gotten money for four months now and it becomes very difficult for most of the teachers. And we are not afraid to say that by the time we resume we must have lost some of our best hands in private schools,” he lamented.
Udofia expressed fear that most of the private schools cannot reopen their schools as the conditions require money to put certain things in place as demanded by the government.
“With what is happening now, we are afraid whether it would be possible for most private schools to reopen. This is because we need to put a lot of things in place.
“When we were in a stakeholders meeting with the commissioner for education, we were asked to do so many things. One of those was to get temperature testing machines at the entrance of the schools before resumption. Where do we have money to buy these things?
“Again we were asked to fumigate our schools, where is the money? Remember we have closed for four months now.”
He condemned government’s attitude over taxation of private schools and called on Governor Udom Emmanuel to extend the COVID-19 tax holiday to private schools in the state.
“Right now private schools are multiply taxed. We pay for renewal of operational licences yearly, private polytechnics and universities don’t renew their license annually.
“But for private nursery, primary and secondary schools, we renew every year. We pay to Ministry of Education, Internal Revenue Service, Sanitation Agency PAYEE, Ministry of Environment, Local government and even stickers for our buses please tell Governor Udom Emmanuel to help us,” he said.