Parents of private Secondary school pupils in Ogun State have protested against the demand for N25,000 as COVID-19 testing fee for each of their children
The protests came against the backdrop of the government’s order that each Senior Secondary Three (SS3) private school student in boarding houses must undergo COVID-19 tests which must come out negative before they were allowed to resume to school.
The state said it negotiated a discount in the cost of COVID-19 test with some healthcare service providers, but that parents were free to use others.
Hundreds of parents and their wards on Sunday stormed the 54gene COVID-19 Mobile Laboratory located within the state-owned MTR Specialist Hospital in Abeokuta, the state capital, where they were asked to pay N25,000 per pupil.
Vice-Chairman, Parent Teachers Association (PTA) of the Taidob College, Abeokuta, Dr Kehinde Sanwo, who spoke on behalf of the parents demanded said the pupils should be should be tested free like their counterparts in public schools.
“The parents here are good citizens of Ogun State. We are taxpayers.
“When we arrived, we were told to pay N25,000, whereas, some people who arrived earlier paid nothing.
“We don’t know where the decision came from. Some of us have more than two children. Why this segregation?”
In a swift reaction however, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Basic and Secondary Education, Mrs Ronke Soyombo, said the guidelines were jointly developed by parents, private school owners, government representatives and other staekeholders.
Soyombo in a statement on Sunday, explained that while the state government took the full responsibility of paying for public school students, it negotiated a huge discount in the cost of COVID-19 test with some health care service providers to reduce the fee for private school students.
She said, “Ogun State is arguably the state with the highest number of schools (public and private) operating boarding facilities in the country with students’ population drawn from far and wide. In view of this and the need to avoid community transmission of the COVID-19 among our children in the boarding facilities and invariably the state as a whole, additional requirements for opening of boarding facilities in all the secondary schools in the state were agreed to.
“A key additional requirement is presentation of certificate of negative COVID-19 test before a student is admitted to the boarding facility in both public and private schools in the state.
“The government will bear the full costs of the COVID-19 test for all the boarding SS3 students in the state-owned public schools.
“All private school owners are also expected to ensure that all their boarding students are certified COVID-19 negative before being admitted into boarding facilities.
“However, private school owners and parents are free to engage any other service provider of their choice provided that the service provider is certified by the NCDC as COVID-19 test service provider.”in their areas.”