Coronavirus: Private school teachers seek soft loans over unpaid salaries

A teacher said she had to resign last week at one of the private schools in Owo after the owner could no longer pay them, SaharaReporters has learnt.

As schools across Nigeria remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some private institutions are currently feeling the heat, Mouthpiece NGR gathered. 

It was learnt that some teachers in private schools in Ondo State have continued to lament the non-payment of their salaries by their employers.

Some teachers working with private schools, who spoke on the condition of anonymity said their employers had been using the opportunity of the lockdown to deny them their salaries.

They noted that even though many of the pupils already paid their school fees, the owners of the schools were not willing to pay them their salaries.

The teachers added that many schools were almost rounding off the session before the government declared the shutdown of academic institutions.

Mrs Yemi Adelaja, a teacher in one of the private schools in Ondo, said ever since schools were shut, she had not been paid any money by the owner of the school where she works.

Another teacher, Mr Olamide Ayokunle, said the proprietor of the school where he teaches English Language had asked them to stay at home.

He revealed that since then, he and other teachers in private schools had begun home lessons for students for a fee as a way of survival.

“It’s from this home lesson that we get some stipends to feed our family since the proprietors are no longer paying us.

“At least, I received weekly pay from some of the parents that I teach their children,” he said.

Another teacher, Bimbo Olamide, said she had to resign last week at one of the private schools in Owo after the owner could no longer pay them.

She explained that she had started a small business in front of her house from the little savings she had just to survive.

She observed that while those in government schools were being paid, the ones in private schools were home without pay.

She said, “For instance, in my school, the owner has been using Coronavirus as an excuse not to pay us.

“We know children are no longer coming to school as a result of the lockdown but what about the school fees they had paid earlier.”

Olamide however, begged the government and individuals in the society to come to their aid by extending palliatives to them.

One private school owner in Akure, who spoke with Correspondent, Mr Hakeem Adebusuyi, blamed the whole situation on the lockdown in the country, noting that some of the teachers were still being paid half salaries.

He revealed that some schools had continued to give out soft loans to their teachers to survive until things get back to normal.

According to President of the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools, Derick Ijidakinro, the issue of salary payment between the teachers and owners of schools should be a private arrangement.

Ijidakinro explained that he had held meetings with some of the proprietors and the excuses they gave were that the Coronavirus outbreak disrupted their plans.

He said, “The truth is that even as at the time schools were being shut, many students and pupils were yet to pay their fees and some only paid half of their fees.

“Private school proprietors are also helping the government in one way or the other to decongest the labour market and unemployment in the town.

“Our prayer is that the Coronavirus pandemic should just go away.”

Soft loans to meet Revenue drop:

The proprietor of Fidel Madonna College of Excellence, Iba New Site, Ojo, Lagos, Mr. Fidel Morah, made the plea on Sunday in a chat with The Nation on the implications of the lockdown on the education sector.

Morah said the lockdown was particularly hard on private schools which were forced to close in Lagos even before the Federal Government imposed a lockdown.

Even with the easing of the lockdown on Monday, schools have not resumed, further complicating matters for private schools which cannot make money to pay workers.

“Teachers in the public schools will receive their salaries while those in the private schools may not since parents and guardians of pupils did not pay their fees,” he said.

To help schools, Morah called on the government to provide schools with soft loans to enable them pay salaries.

He said: “I am advocating for soft loans as a temporary measure which will be paid back to the government after the current situation has been under control. Asking for grants now is out of it. This will enable private schools operators to pay their teachers so that they will not feel the impact of the lockdown much.

“It was just at the time examinations were about to begin that the problem started and most parents do not pay their wards’ school fees until examinations start. In this instance, most parents and guardians hadn’t paid the fees for their children and wards, making it impossible for some proprietors to pay their teachers’ salaries for March and April. Some managed to pay while majority could not. This has brought untold hardship on the teachers who do not have any alternative sources.

On how government could ensure that the loans are paid back, Morah suggested that the licences given to private schools to operate could serve as collateral, so that “in the event of some beneficiaries of the loans not paying back, their licences would be withdrawn by the government.”

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