Private school owners seek soft loans from Lagos govt

The Lagos State Government has been urged to give soft loans to operators of private schools as palliatives to cushion the effects of the lockdown occasioned by the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

The proprietor of Fidel Madonna College of Excellence, Iba New Site, Ojo, Lagos, Mr. Fidel Morah, made the plea while speaking 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.

“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 of income.”

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serve as collateral, so that “in the event of some beneficiaries of the loans not paying back, their licences would be withdrawn by the government.”

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