As the Senior Secondary School 3 students resume tomorrow August 4 in preparation for the West African Senior School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) starting on August 17 parents of students in private secondary schools in Ogun have protested against the N25, 000 COVID-19 test fee demanded for each of their children.
The government had said that no boarding school student would be admitted into schools without a certificate of COVID-19 test which must be negative.
Yesterday, the parents besieged the MTR 250-bed specialist hospital, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, the designated place for the test in Abeokuta, the state capital.
It was gathered that attempts by the parents to get their children tested for free failed as they were asked to pay N25, 000 for each child.
Irked by the development, the parents protested and blocked the entrance of the hospital while the health officials hurriedly left the place.
Speaking on behalf of the parents, the vice chairman, Parents Teachers Association (PTA) of one of the private schools in the state, Dr Kehinde Sanwo, queried the action of the government.
Sanwo alleged discrimination against the students in private schools.
“The parents here are good citizens of Ogun State and we are taxpayers.
“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.
“We need the governor to come to our rescue; we think it (test) should be free. We were told the directive was from the commissioner for health,” she said.
But the government, in a statement by 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 stakeholders.
Soyombo 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.
“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.
“To further assist the private schools, Ogun State Government has negotiated a huge discount in the cost of COVID-19 test with some health care service providers
“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,” she said.