The Founder and Principal Advocate of Concerned Parents & Educators Initiative (CPE), Mrs. Yinka Ogunde has expressed displeasure over the government’s decision to stop private schools from offering online classes to their pupils while schools remain closed over to the Coronavirus outbreak.
In a press statement issued on Wednesday, Ogunde admitted that Nigeria, like other nations of the world, is going through an unusual time and must be open to developing new strategies for sustainability.
“This is certainly an unusual time and every sector is trying to make sense of the pandemic and developing coping strategies.”
She expressed deep concern over the non-inclusion of private schools in the government plans, arguing that the contributions of private schools to the education sector cannot and should not be undermined.
“We feel compelled to voice out our concern in view of the discordant tunes emanating from the Education sector. ￼Many government leaders in education have begun to respond to various actions in the sector. We are worried that these responses are so varied that they may not provide enough guidance to all of us. “
“The Commissioner for Education in Lagos has stated that the third term has not begun. She, however, advised schools to engage with parents in order to meet two important needs: 1. Mentally engaging children to shorten the gap of learning whenever schools eventually reopen. 2. Raising funds in private schools to meet financial needs such as paying staff. We think this is a progressive and realistic decision.”
“You may also have seen the response of the Ag. Secretary for Education in Abuja. He forbids schools to re-open ‘in any form’ during this period in view of the FCTA’s plan to ‘introduce e-learning platforms to include lessons on radio and television’.”
She noted that “while anticipating responses from other government leaders in education, it is important to remind them of the importance of inclusive decisions.”
Said she, “The private sector in education more than fills the gap in Nigeria…it provides opportunities to the children who live in isolated communities and would otherwise have no access to school. It provides globally competitive platforms at the high end and showcases what the Nigerian child can do. It provides for the international community by absorbing children of expatriates who bring certain required skills to different aspects of our economy.”
“How then is the private sector not considered in our decisions? Why is the government not providing bailouts to the private schools so their staff can be paid? Is anyone listening to the cry of this sector that provides for at least 35% of Nigerian children? Or do they not matter? We want to call on the Minister of Education and all Commissioners of Education to work closely with private Educators and parents on this issue in the best interest of the Nigerian child. We believe that the Government must act in a way that shows consideration for all our Children. “
“For several decades, the Private education sector has effectively complemented the effort of the government to provide education for all. This is a service that must be taken into consideration at this time and we must all work in the best interest of our children. We commend the Government for taking steps to ensure the safety of all our children and we agree that everyone must wait till we get the “all clear” message before opening the doors of our Schools.”
Ogunde upholds that learning must go on and must be encouraged at all levels, stressing that This does not mean that the third term must commence immediately but schools and parents who can afford the additional expenditure of online classes must not be discouraged. This is the path to the future. The world is being transformed and we must ensure we raise children that will understand the dynamics of this change.”
While commending the radio/television initiative of government, she urged that “individual schools will also be encouraged to find ways of staying connected with their pupils/students at this time We implore the Government, to support online learning and allow Private Schools to continue to seek creative ways of engaging their students”.