Most governments around the world have temporarily closed educational institutions in an attempt to contain the spread of COVID-19. Like many other sectors, private education institutions are reeling from the impact of quarantine measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. To operate a private education is not a cheap enterprise in any country, as most of these institutions are self-funded.
As rightly stated by the education director for Region Two, Lamin Fatajo, the closure of schools, however, has also brought to the fore some hardships and challenges especially teachers in private schools. This challenges ranges from unpaid monthly salaries to other arrears.
We all know that most private schools depend entirely on school fees and other sources to pay their teaching staff. So, situation exists where government has temporarily closed all schools as part of measures to combat the pandemic. The situation is a delicate one not only for teachers, but even parents and those concerned in the country’s educational system.
We welcome the move by government in engaging the private school authorities and their proprietors to see how best they can settle the payment of their teachers’ salary arrears. As Fatajo put it “the current situation in our schools is uncertain for everybody and also schools have different capacities to pay their teachers”.
Going by the figures, there exist about 113 private Upper Basic Schools (UBS) and 73 private Senior Secondary Schools (SSS) in Region 2 alone.
Despite the fact that some schools owe their teaching staff some monthly salaries, a good number of these staff are willing to offer help to their schools in this trying time of covid-19 pandemic.
Though, the economic impact of COVID-19 is likely to be felt over the next few years, particularly in terms of job cuts and a reduction in income across the board.
Experts even believe that because of the continuing risk of COVID-19 pandemic and the loss of livelihoods, enrollment for the upcoming school year 2020-2021 suffer greatly in both public and private schools.
In the meantime, most schools must invest in equipment, facilities and training of teachers for the blended learning mode, which will rely heavily on information and communication technology.
Therefore, we challenge government to put in measures how best they can bail out some of these private schools including the Madrassas.
"Bullyying is something every kid in public, parochial, or private school has witnessed by graduation. While unfortunate, it is part of growing up."