Parents protest N25,000 COVID-19 test fee as Ogun govt orders compulsory checks for students

Parents of private school pupils in Ogun State on Sunday protested a demand for N25,000 as COVID-19 testing fee.

The government said it would bear the full cost of the test for boarding Senior Secondary Three (SS3) pupils in public schools.

It asked private school owners to ensure that their boarding pupils are certified COVID-19-negative.

The state said it negotiated a discount in the cost of COVID-19 test with some healthcare service providers, but that parents were free to use others.

The state said private schools could also apply for a waiver.

Hundreds of parents and their wards who visited the 54gene COVID-19 Mobile Laboratory located within the state-owned MTR Specialist Hospital in Abeokuta, the state capital, were asked to pay N25,000 per pupil.

The angry parents blocked the hospital gate, insisting their children should be tested free like their counterparts in public schools.

Vice-Chairman, Parent Teachers Association (PTA) of the Taidob College, Abeokuta, Dr Kehinde Sanwo, said the pupils should be treated equally.

“The parents here are good citizens of Ogun State. We are taxpayers.

“When we arrived, we were told to pay N25,000, whereas, some people who arrived earlier paid nothing.

“We don’t know where the decision came from. Some of us have more than two children. Why this segregation?

The state government had ordered all SS3 boarding students in the state to take COVID-19 and malaria tests before they would be admitted into their various hostels.

A statement issued by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Primary and Secondary Education, Mrs Ronke Soyombo, said the State Ministry of Health had already made provisions for the students to take the tests, as part of the conditions for the re-opening of schools in Ogun.

According to her, the exercise which began on July 31 and would end on August 3, adding that the exercise was ongoing at three public health care facilities in the state.

They include ‘The 250 MTR’ – a white edifice opposite the State Secretariat in the Okemosan area of Abeokuta, the state capital.

The other two facilities are the Ogun State General Hospital in Ado-Odo Ota and the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital in Sagamu.

She said the tests of the students were part of the frantic efforts of the state government to ensure a safe learning academic atmosphere for both learners and teachers in all public and private schools.

Soyombo said all principals of private and public schools had been asked to enforce the directive of the government which was in line with the guidelines of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

“All the returning boarding students are to stay in the school hostels only. Parents are hereby advised that private hostels are exempted from accommodating students during this period to ensure strict compliance with NCDC directives,” she stated.

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