By Faith Igbudu
President, National Association of Proprietors of Private schools (NAPPS), Benue State, Philip Ominiyi, has dispelled the rumour being circulated that COVID-19 funds sent to private schools by the federal government were diverted into personal accounts.
Ominiyi explained that the intervention was part of the federal government’s survival package for school owners, to help teachers cope with the non-payment of salaries at the time.
He said, although the proprietors put in the required application, the monies were paid directly into the list of beneficiaries account, saying that the school management had no influence over the monies.
“It was called a survival fund meant for private schools who were not paid because of the lockdown to cushion the effect felt. The survival fund was for the teachers, it was not given to schools. It was for a maximum of 10 teachers or minimum of 2 per school and the money was thirty thousand each for a duration of three months. The program has rounded up.
“In applying for the fund, it is true that the proprietor of the school writes the application using the CAC and other relevant documents but the money is paid directly into the teacher’s (beneficiary) account with no interference from the school”.
Any school collecting levies for COVID-19, is doing so under parents/teachers agreement or at the schools risk as pupils have been asked to provide facemask and hand santizers. “If any school is collecting COVID-19 fee, it is an understanding between the school management and the PTA. If the school makes the PTA to understand, then it is okay,” he explained.
The president of the association, who is also the proprietor of Benpaulian Schools Ichakobe Ibilla, Oju Local Government Area, appealed to the Benue state government not to sideline children in private schools in the COVID-19 welfare plan but include them, in order to have a wholistic plan for the Benue child.
He said though the government has done well with the public schools, the bulk of Benue children are in private schools and should not be discriminated against when allocating resources, especially in the fight against COVID-19.
”Parents prefer to pay for quality than a free school. In fact, in most competitions, it is children from the private schools that represent the state because of their performance. In the first place, the children who are in the private schools, though called private, they are not private children.”
“The Universal Basic Education (UBE) is actually a plan for the children in both public and primary schools and are supposed to provide what is meant for the well being of every Nigerian child even the ones in private schools but they are not doing it.”
“Sadly, when it comes to school census, they will take all our schools and the majority of the children are always in private schools. They will not improve our conditions in private schools, they rather go and do it in the public schools at the end these facilities are not used and it becomes a waste.”
“I want to appeal to the government, that these children are also Nigerian children and they should look out for their welfare, we are not taking away their responsibility we are only trying to assist government. They should provide the necessary facilities for child learning, like structures, toilets, educational materials. I want government to help us because we are partners in developing these children,” he pleaded.