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Anxiety as schools resume, stakeholders list expectations

By Iyabo Lawal and Adelowo Adebumiti
21 September 2020   |   3:30 am
Amid inflation and hike in electricity and fuel tariffs, there are fears that most parents might not be able to meet their financial obligations, as schools resume today.

Amid inflation and hike in electricity and fuel tariffs, there are fears that most parents might not be able to meet their financial obligations, as schools resume today.

Majority of working Nigerians have suffered the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the inaugural report of the coronavirus monitoring survey released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), over 42 per cent of workers lost their jobs diminishing the incomes of 79 per cent of households.

Accounts across the federation also showed that employees were disengaged from the aviation, hospitality, banking, construction, manufacturing, media, sales, and services sectors.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had said the Federal Government anticipated 39.4 million job losses by December on account of the disease.
Prior to the outbreak, Nigeria’s unemployment rate was 23.1 per cent, while under-employment stood at 16 per cent.

As learning institutions reopen nationwide, more than six months after the numerous lockdowns that affected some 46 million primary and secondary pupils going by the statistics of the United Nations, stakeholders have expressed differing opinions.

While a good number feared increased tuition, others faulted the timing of resumption.

A Lagos-based lawyer, Tony Odiadi, noted that the new session was beginning at a most challenging time when the economy “is doing badly, and the situation is further compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

He added that many employers of labour had sacked their employees.
“As schools resume, parents expect an environment free of COVID-19 for learning. Parents expect qualitative learning, but the teachers are not motivated to work,” the public notary submitted.

Odiadi urged restraints in levies, stressing the importance of security in the whole process.
A single mother, Mrs. Temitayo Adegoke, who lost her job in April on the strength of the disease, said she could not afford any increase in her son’s fees.
However, the Chief Executive Officer of Heaven’s Grace Farm, Mr. Elesho James, said parents could be asked to pay more in view of the prevailing economic situation in the country.
But a consultant and concerned parent, Mr. Julius Opara, said the time has come to review the curriculum for better service delivery.
He equally canvassed a more student-friendly approach to teaching.

“The pandemic has shown that students don’t need all the unnecessary subjects they are usually saddled with. Only core subjects and a lifelong teaching/learning approach would give the expected result.

“The new normal demands that skill sets are more saleable now than certification, and so schools should adopt a methodology that is tailored towards ensuring that students acquire life-long skills. Schools should look into the curriculum and merge subjects that have similar lessons/topics, and also fashion the best approach to easily deliver the lessons following the new procedural way of doing things,” James added.

In her remarks, Director of Grace Schools, Gbagada, Lagos, Tokunbo Edun, allayed fee increase fears, saying doing so time like this was counter-productive.
Another proprietor, Mrs. Nkechi Amaji of De Vessels Nursery and Primary School, Ijeododo, Lagos, ruled out increment for now.

She said: “All we need is for our pupils to return to school and pay their outstanding debts and present fees.
Coordinator, Mind Builder School, Mr. Israel Gbenga Abatan, said, “there are a lot of issues to contend with as schools resume.
For instance, he stated that proprietors and proprietresses were cash-strapped, and would need money urgently to sort things out, adding: “Parents should understand that schools need money to remain in business.”