COVID-19: Rivers’ education ministry insists on schools’ closure

From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt

The Rivers State Ministry of Education has said that public and private schools in the state must remain closed until the issue of COVID-19 is properly tackled.

The Ministry also warned management of private schools against operating outside the confines of the state government’s order.

The State Commissioner for Education, Professor Kaniye Ebeku, gave the warning in Port Harcourt while speaking with the management of Greenoak School and Royal Girls Academy, following an alleged exploitation report against the schools by some parents.

Prof. Ebeku said the state government would not tolerate flouting of the directive on the closure of schools and warned against exploitation of parents during the pandemic period under the guise of a third term e-learning programme.

The Commissioner also warned that all private schools within the state should desist from inviting parents to pay fees for the third term since the state government has not made any announcement on the commencement of the term.

He said: “Your schools acted without authorities. The letters you sent to parents are being protested by the parents and the government has a duty to protect the parents.

“Schools have not opened and therefore the third term has not commenced to the extent of any private school inviting parents to pay fees. Schools that have asked parents to start paying fees are purportedly suggesting that third term has started. The Ministry of Education in the state has not announced resumption of school.

“The original academic calendar for 2019/2020 was suspended with immediate effect on March 23, when the closure of schools was announced by the Governor of the state.”

Prof. Ebeku, however, directed the withdrawal of the letters forthwith and warned other private schools not to collect any fees for third term unless and until an agreement has been reached on the issue with all stakeholders.

Prof Ebeku warned that any school that violates this directive of the state government will face unpleasant consequences.

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