An educationist, Mr Abdul-Ganiyy, Raji, has called on government at all levels to extend financial support to private schools, to mitigate the biting effect of the Covid-19 lockdown.
Speaking in a statement on Monday in Kaduna, Raji said it would be callous of the government to wait for owners and teachers of private schools to start dying of starvation before it comes to their aid.
According to Abdul-Ganiyy, the nation cannot afford to sustain current prejudicial culture of silence over the huge impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on the livelihoods of school owners and private school teachers.
“We cannot afford to keep ignoring the welfare of private schools. We must remember that private schools survive primarily on earnings from their customers.
“We all know that schools have not collected third term fees from their customers. We are aware that all the sources of income of private schools have been blocked by the current lockdown. Government should please do something about private schools.
“For more than two months now, schools in the whole federation have been under lock and key in compliance with the lockdown order imposed by the Federal Government to flatten the curve of the novel Coronavirus which has defied all known remedies.
“Government is commended for this bold step which is aimed at curtailing the spread of the virus. We have to stay at home to be safe and to be alive. Different countries of the world have also taken diverse measures to forestall the further spread of the highly infectious virus.
“Many countries have also locked up their schools as a precautionary measure against Covid-19. So, Nigeria is not the only country that has shut down schools. No right-thinking Nigerian will criticize the government for the current closure of schools in the country. We cannot afford to endanger the lives of our children or their teachers and others who work in schools.
“However, while this lockdown lasts, is anybody talking about how school owners are coping with the salaries of their workforce at this difficult time? Is anybody discussing how school owners themselves are surviving and helping their family members to survive during this lockdown?
“Schools were shut down as far back as March. As I speak to you, the month of May has ended, we are in June. Are we aware that some school owners have not paid March and April salaries? We are not even talking about May salaries.
“Some private schools slashed their staff’s salaries as far back as March. When schools were first shut down, many school owners and teachers had predicted that the closure would only last for a few days or weeks. Now nobody can even prognosticate when schools will reopen in this country,” he said.