May 24, 2020

Online teaching: We are being extorted ― Parents

30m Nigerians affected as COVID-19 raises learning poverty to 63%, others ― World Bank


No, somebody must pay for it – School owners

Adesina Wahab and Elizabeth Osayande

Parents and guardians of pupils and students in some private primary and secondary schools are now accusing school owners of extorting them by making them pay huge sums of money for online teaching as schools are closed down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Checks by Vanguard showed that some private schools are charging pupils and students between N30,000 and N50,000 per person to be part of online classes being held to keep students busy.

This is just as some teachers in the affected schools are complaining of non-payment of salaries to keep them going while schools are closed.

A respondent, Charity Agu-Okafor, said the money being demanded was not commensurate with the services provided.

“On Saturday we had our PTA meeting via zoom. The subject matter was the payment. Now, the school is compelling parents to pay school fees as if it were normal school. Their only consideration is that the school fees will be split into three months. This decision caused a lot of uproar from parents and school management. The school then decided after much deliberation that they will give a discount of N10,000 each to parents,” she said.

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Olaitan Samuel stated that schools were only making parents do most of the work, as they were the ones guiding the pupils on what to do, therefore making the money paid to be a sort of waste.

“My child is in Kindergarten One. Her school wants to do an online class through WhatsApp. The teacher, as usual for online class, will send classwork, I will take her through it and still pay the school full fees. Mind you, I have to go out to my workplace too, come home and do teacher’s work, and still pay the full school fee. How does that work? I will also pay for data.

“I will practically have to turn into a kg 1 teacher. Not that my child shouldn’t learn from me, but it would be at our own pace, our own song and rhymes etc. Now I am trying to meet up with everyday tasks given by school when I have a job to do too. Finally, I see this as an opportunity for my child to just sing her rhymes, play, watch 123 cartoons on TV and not do classwork,” he said.

Ola Johnson opined that school owners should join hands with the government to improve learning through radio and television stations and relieve parents of the burden of paying for online teaching.

Celestina Ramsey-Emede while expressing support for parents to pay a token, added that charging so much was uncalled for.

“All over the world when you take classes online compared to a traditional classroom it is cheaper and some benefits of the traditional classroom are not there. We buy these data. We also fuel the generator when there is no power supply. School owners should also be considerate too. What happens to parents that have lost jobs or gotten salary cut due to the pandemic.

My concern is to let them stop being selfish because it affects everyone. We are all in this together What happens if the parents all decide that their children won’t attend these classes, won’t the schools look for a way to reach a concession with the parents so we all move forward,” she said.

Reacting to the development, the National President, National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools, NAPPS, Chief Yomi Otubela, said there ought to be an agreement between parents and school owners on what to pay for online teaching.

He, however, debunked the notion that proprietors were extorting parents by charging high fees for the exercise.

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“There are some private schools that are not charging anything for their online classes. The truth is that somebody has to pay for online classes. Those referring to the radio and television classes run by the government should know that the government pays for it whether directly or indirectly.

“If we go by budgetary allocation to education by the government, though we may say it is still small compared to expected international standards, I am sure what the government spends on each student in public schools run into thousands of naira and we know that education is expensive and we cannot toy with ignorance, ” he stated.

Meanwhile, some teachers in private schools are groaning under the non-payment of their salaries since the Coronavirus lockdown started.

A teacher in one of the schools, Iyabo Daniel, expressed disgust that she has not been paid since February this year.

“Now, they want us to start the online teaching and promised to buy data for us and they promised that they can only pay us for this service if parents cooperate and pay a token for this. Meanwhile, we have been told before now that most parents are still having outstanding payments to make, ” she said.