By Ochiaka Ugwu
Private School teachers in Nigeria under the auspices of National Association of Private School Teachers (NAPST) have called on the government at all levels to come to their aid due to the fact that they have not been paid salary for almost five months.
This was due to Covid-19 pandemic which saw the schools closed as a measure put up by the government to curtail its spread.
The teachers, who raised the alarm in a press conference addressed in Abuja Thursday, said that things are getting really bad and unbearable for them, financially, due to the prolonged closure of schools as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The body said that their members are passing through excruciating pains and sufferings as a result of the closure of schools, which led to nonpayment of salaries and other entitlements due to them, thus soliciting for government and philanthropic interventions for the teachers.
NAPST President, Comrade Augustine Olumhense Akhigbe flanked by the Vice-President of the association, Comrade Ogunlana Rahman Hassan disclosed that since the closure of schools in March, private school teachers have not been paid their monthly salaries.
He said: “A good number of private school teachers were last paid in February. The closure of schools for the whole of the third term of the 2019/2020 academic session means that no tuition payment and salaries for months running will not be paid also.
“Obviously, private school teachers are facing difficult times with no hope in sight as of when the lockdown on schools will be lifted. The States and Federal Government have not considered private school teachers as a group that deserves palliatives whereas they are in the group of vulnerable Nigerians.
“In reality, over 100, 000 families of private school teachers, most especially where both husband and wife are private school teachers, are unable to feed their families and cannot pay basic bills.
“Private schools in Nigeria do not receive government subventions. They rely solely on tuition payments. More often than not, salaries are not paid as when due. Hence, apart from underpayment, private school teachers in Nigeria also have to contend with the issue of delay in monthly payment of their entitlements.
“Some schools don’t pay teachers for the period schools observe holidays. It’s as bad as that. Despite the outstanding contributions of private school teachers to the education sector, they work without gratuity, complete absence of job security, none or irregular remittance of pension deductions, in addition to being exposed to all sorts of unfavorable conditions of service.”
They, however, asked for an interest free loan that would enable them to engage in economic activities, with a guarantee to repay the loan as soon as possible. “We appreciate the N50 billion COVID-19 intervention fund (single digit loan) approved by the Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). But most school owners will not like to access the loan to pay salaries, hence the reason many private school teachers are still suffering,” he said.