By James Ogunnaike – Abeokuta
Parents of students attending private schools in Ogun state on Sunday trooped out to protest government’s decision to charge the sum of N25,000 on each student before testing them for COVID-19 ahead of their resumption on Tuesday, August 4.
The parents who besieged the MTR Specialist Hospital, Abeokuta, venue of the test, queried the rationale behind the levy which they said they did not prepare for.
The protesters also queried why the government would impose any levy on students of private schools while their counterparts in public schools were tested free, pointing out that the disparity was against the electioneering manifesto that brought in the present administration.
They argue that Dapo Abiodun-led administration promised the people of the state free education.
They maintained that COVID-19 test shouldn’t be compulsory for students since the state government had instructed all schools to make adequate provisions for testing of their students before they resume in their respective schools.
Speaking with journalists, the Vice Chairman, Parent Teachers Association (PTA) of one of the private schools in the state, Dr Kehinde Sanwo wondered why the government should discriminate between students in public and private schools, adding that, they were all children of the state that should be treated equally.
“The parents here are good citizens of Ogun State and we are taxpayers. And it is so disheartening that we are here at the MTR hospital the venue for COVID-19 test”.
“When we arrived here today, we were told to pay N25,000. Whereas, some people who arrived earlier paid nothing. So, we don’t know where the decision came from. Some of us have more than two children. Why these segregations?”, she queried.
Speaking with journalists at the venue of the test, Director of Public Health, Dr Olukayode Soyinka said he was not aware of the N25,000 test levy on private school students.
Soyinka said the est before now had been free, stressing that he was just instructed by the state Commissioner for Health, Dr Tomi Coker, to make himself available at the venue to provide a conducive environment for the students.
He, however, disclosed that the test was organized by the state government in conjunction with a private laboratory company, 54gene, under the Public Private Partnership arrangement.
One of the officials of 54gene declined comments on the ground that he lacked the power to speak to the media.
He, however, explained that his company’s activities at the testing ground had the approval of the state government.