Parents of private school students in Ogun State have protested against a N25,000 fee returning boarding students have been asked to pay for a coronavirus test.
The state had earlier fixed resumption of SS3 students for Tuesday, months after a nationwide halt of academic activities over the COVID-19 pandemic.
The reopening is to allow the students to prepare for the Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE) slated to begin on August 17.
However, 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.
The PUNCH newspaper 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.
“How many parents can afford to pay N25, 000 in Ogun where there is acute poverty?” a parent whose child attends Redeemers’ High school in Mowe asked. “The ministers of health and education should better think of another means to rake in money from people,” she said .
Another parent, who spoke with our reporter in a telephone interview, also questioned the rationale for the test fee.
“My brother has been told to pay N30,000 before the school resumes for COVID-19 test. The test is supposed to be free if truly the government is concerned about the people,” the parent who gave her name as Ms Akinkuebi said.
She said the government was also not making necessary preparations for social distancing and other safety protocols in schools.
Reacting to the grouse, however, the Special Assistant to the Governor on public communication, Remmy Hassan, said private schools students were meant to pay N25,000 because the government had subsidised the cost by 50 per cent.
“The COVID-19 test costs about N50,000. For the students in public schools, it is free but because the private schools could not provide us with the total number of their students, we could only subsidise the cost by 50 per cent.
“The reagents for the test have to be made available by NDDC because the students need to resume in the next 48 hours. All these are very important and it will cost money. That was why we decided that private schools should pay half of the cost since they are profit makers,” he told PREMIUM TIMES on Sunday.
As of the time of filing this report, a total of 43, 537 cases of the respiratory disease have been confirmed in Nigeria.
While 20,087 patients have recovered and been discharged, 883 persons have died.