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School reopening: Parents reject N25,000 COVID-19 test levy for students

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Outrage erupted in Abeokuta, Ogun State as parents of students in private secondary schools in the state on Sunday protested against the payment of N25,000 as COVID-19 test charges by each student.

Daily Trust reports that graduating students are billed to resume schools tomorrow ahead of their examinations.

The government had mandated each student to undergo a test as a precondition for resumption.

The government said only students certified free of COVID-19 will be allowed into the school premises.

But parents alongside their wards in large numbers visited 54 gene COVID-19 Mobile Lab located within the state-owned MTR Specialist Hospital, Abeokuta, for COVID-19 test, only to be informed of the payment of N25,000 per student.

The parents then became agitated and staged a protest against what they called monetisation of the test.

They also queried why the government would impose any levy on students of private schools while their counterparts in public schools were tested free, arguing that the disparity was against the electioneering manifesto that brought in the present administration of free education.

The aggrieved parents also shut the gate of the hospital, as part of moves to demonstrate their grievances against the decision.

For more than six hours, they took over the premises and brought activities to a halt, preventing entry and exit into the hospital

Speaking with newsmen, one of the parents, Dr. Kehinde Sanwo questioned why the government should discriminate between students in public and private schools, adding that they are all children of the state are should be treated equally.

Sanwo, who is the Vice-Chairman, Parent Teachers Association (PTA) of Taidob College, Asero, Abeokuta, said “The parents here are good citizens of Ogun State and are taxpayers. It is so disheartening that we are here at the MTR hospital, the venue for the COVID-19 test.

“When we arrived 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.”

Speaking with newsmen at the venue of the test, Director of Public Health at the State Ministry of Health, Dr. Olukayode Soyinka said he was not aware of the N25,000 COVID-19 test payment on private schools students.

He said COVID-19 test 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 organised by the state government in conjunction with a private laboratory company, 54gene under Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) arrangement.

Speaking with Daily Trust, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Public Communications, Remmy Hazzan denied what the parents called segregation, saying “It’s not segregation, but a show of magnanimity by the state government.”

He said the parents are free to approach any certified COVID-19 Lab Centre to ensure their wards get tested and cleared free of the virus.

 

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