The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) has moved against the payment of N25,000 for coronavirus test in Ogun state.
The state had earlier fixed resumption of SS3 students for Tuesday, to allow them to prepare for the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE) slated to begin on August 17.
Also, as part of the conditions for school resumption, the state government announced that COVID-19 and malaria tests are mandatory for returning boarding students.
While the COVID-19 test is free for public secondary school students, their counterparts in private schools are required to pay N25,000.
PREMIUM TIMES on Sunday reported how some of the parents took their demonstrations to the streets, faulting the decision of the government to ask them to pay.
The dissatisfied parents on Sunday thronged the 250-bed MTR specialist hospital, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, the designated place for the pupils in Abeokuta after attempts to get their wards tested for free failed.
Some parents who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES, on Sunday, described the fee as insensitive on the part of the state government.
However, on Sunday evening, the Special Adviser on primary and secondary education, Ronke Soyombo, insisted that the government is not going back on its position.
The SPN, one of the parties controversially deregistered by the electoral commission, INEC, condemned the payment, stating its full support for all preventive measures geared towards ensuring that pupils and all the workers in these schools are tested and certified before resumption.
“We are strongly opposed to a situation where the pupils, their parents or the workers, are being made to bear the brunt of the costs of these measures.”
The party, in the statement issued by its chairperson in the state, John Nicholas, posited that the state government must be prepared to bear the costs as part of its overall duties of adequately funding the public education sector, and the provision of other facilities that would make learning and teaching worthwhile.
“The SPN frowned against the discrimination of the state government against parents of private schools pupils. That the parents had to send their wards to private schools in the first instance, is a reflection of the failure of the government to adequately fund the state owned schools.”
According to the group, sending wards to private schools was not a choice freely made, but made possible by the worsening conditions of the public schools with inadequate facilities and poor learning conditions.
“Since COVID-19 infection is of public health importance, as the unfolding events have shown, the government would do well not to gamble with the health of the school pupils and the general public by not prioritizing profits over the health needs of the citizens.”
The SPN also called for the implementation of the N30,000 minimum wage for workers in the state and the payment of backlogs of unpaid salaries and arrears.
“Till date, this same government has refused to implement the N30,000:00 new minimum wage approved by the federal government for the workers.
“Added to this, is his refusal to pay workers backlogs of unpaid salaries and allowances in the public service, including the education workers: MAPOLY, TASCE, SAPADE; healthcare workers’ OOUTH; and others! The road infrastructures across the state have completely collapsed,” Mr Nicholas said on Monday.
Source: SPN opposes N25,000 COVID-19 levy for Ogun private school students
By Alfred Olufemi
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