Some private schools across Lagos state are operating codedly despite the order of the state government regarding opening to avoid the spread of coronavirus.
Our investigations reveal that some privately owned schools are having classes and collecting fees from students in what appears to be a clear disobedience to the Lagos state government’s directives.
When this reporter got a hint that schools around Ijesha, Surulere were operating, the dateline was set. Ilamoye street, Surulere was actually the focus but others came to being when visited.
From Sanya Bus stop on Apapa- Oshodi Express way, locating Ilamoye street was pretty easy. Coming from Mile 2, Ilamoye street is by your right-hand side almost immediately after Sanya Bus stop bridge. It is a gated street.
On entering the street, the sixth building by your right-hand side houses Stella Maris Academy, though it has no notice board outside but those who know patronise it codedly. Obviously, this is not an approved private school by the state government.
The owner, Mrs Stella Ozoemana said she started the school during 2019/2020 academic session. She gloriously praised herself having taught at Covenant Child Academy.
“Do you know Covenant Child Academy? I have worked there. I left there for a bigger and an international school in Aguda, Surulere. Of course, my experience and standard account for why parents are coming. If you know Mr Bello, former Coker Aguda Local Government Chairman, I taught one of his son”.
During her interactions with this reporter, school children were seen coming in without school uniforms, no hand sanitizers nor any health or preventive checks done. Though she claimed the rooms were cleaned with detergents before the kids arrive daily.
This reporter also observed that some of the kids, mostly those in basic classes were not having nose mask at all. This really poses danger and could increase the spread of coronavirus as against the government’s efforts.
Hear Mrs Ozoemena’s views on this: “Every morning I mob here. I have hand sanitiser. But that of face mask, I will not lie to you, I don’t even encourage it because sometimes it is as if they want to suffocate. I believe there is no corona anywhere but we still take precautions”.
According to Mrs Ozoemena, she operates her school during this lockdown from 10am -2pm daily. She charges four thousand naira (4000) per child monthly. Though she said, this is just a lesson she began this last month, June 2020 but her gate man collaborated this claim adding “Oga na last month them start o. Even me sef last month I start this security job. I come from Niger republic. I no be Nigerian”.
Though Mrs Ozoemena agreed some schools use online platforms like Zoom to teach their students but she believes it is not effective like the face to face classes.
Another school within the neighbourhood engaging in this contravention is John Bright School. This is located on Association Avenue. The street is by your left when you almost walk down the Ilamoye street, being a very long street. When this reporter visited, everything about this school shows gross incompetency.
The building itself is under construction of about three-story building. Clearly, the building authority in Lagos state needs to take a deeper look at the structure. Though the gates are closed, but when you knock, the gate man, Uche Godswill will attend to you. He directed this reporter to meet Prince at the last floor of the school building where most students were being taught at various classes.
This reporter met Prince teaching some students without nose mask nor obey the rule of social distance. According to Prince, the school does not really care about my concern. But he promised to pass my message to the proprietress, Mrs John.
According to Prince, the school runs full classes for both basic and secondary classes. The fees are One thousand Five hundred naira (1500) per child monthly or you pay One hundred naira per student daily. They students were seen in their various classes though without their school uniforms. This is a smart way John Bright runs school during this season perhaps to avoid being quickly identified.
On why will the school operate currently as against government’s directive, he said the proprietress would be the only person to provide response.
In all, Lagos state government needs to step up enforcement in this regard to avoid the potential problems this deviant can cause in the state. Also, association of school owners in the state should talk to its members to support government’s efforts in ending the coronavirus pandemic in the state.