OGUN STATE PARENT SCREAMS OVER THE HIGH COST FOR COVID-19 TEST.
Senior Secondary School three (SS3) are expected to resume schools on Monday ahead of their Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE).
Ogun Government has insisted on certificate of negative COVID -19 tests for students in hostels to be admitted.
It stated it would bear costs for students in public boarding schools but mandated parents and private school operators to work out how to get their wards tested at government designated centres.
But parents and their wards in their hundreds, who visited the 54gene COVID – 19 Mobile Lab located within the state – owned MTR Specialist Hospital, Abeokuta were confronted with alleged demand of N25,000 per student for testing.
The angry parents wondered why the government should impose any levy on students of private schools while their counterparts in public schools were tested free.
They shut the gate of the hospital and brought all activities at the facility to a standstill.
Nobody was allowed to enter or exit the hospital, insisting their children should be tested free.
One of the aggrieved parents, Dr. Kehinde Sanwo, railed at the government over the discrimination, saying students are all children of the state and should be treated equally.
Sanwo, who is the Vice Chairman, Parent Teachers Association (PTA) of the Taidob College, Asero Abeokuta, said: “The parents here are good citizens of Ogun state which we are taxpayers. And it is so disheartening that we are here at the MTR hospital, the venue for covid-19 test.
“When we arrived we were told to pay N25, 000. Whereas, some people who arrived earlier paid nothing.
“So, we don’t know where the decision came from. Some of us have more than two children. Why this segregation?”
Director of Public Health at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Olukayode Soyinka, told reporters he was not aware of the demand of N25, 000 payment placed on private students.
Soyinka said COVID-19 test had been free, stressing he was just instructed by Commissioner for Health Dr. Tomi Coker to make himself available at the venue to provide conducive environment for the exercise.
He however disclosed the test was organised by the State Government in conjunction with a private laboratory company, 54gene under the Public Private Partnership arrangement.
Special Adviser to Governor Dapo Abiodun on Public Communications, Remmy Hazzan, said there was no discrimination or segregation about the matter, explaining “it’s not segregation but a show of magnanimity by the state government.”
He said: “The test is not compulsory for day students, it is compulsory for borders. Boarders in public schools 100 percent subsidy, borders in private schools 50 percent subsidy.
“However, those in private schools or any parent may choose to approach any other lab aside from ours to get this test done. What is most important is that those labs that they go to must be NCDC certified.
“May I announce to you that anybody who is capable of enrolling his ward in private school has taken it beyond the level of a taxpayer.
“When you are in a private school, the argument of a taxpayer for such does not apply.
“It’s the school that we are compelling now to ensure that those in the exit classes are COVID – 19 negative and provide their test results.
“So, in providing it, if they want us to be the ones responsible for the test, we have gone one step further to give a 50 percent discount. If that is the argument of being a taxpayer, the state government has also done something.
“Most of the ones conducted by the state government have been free thus far and a good number of them have been paid for.
“But whether it’s free or paid for, someone somewhere is paying for it. So, the ones that are carried out by the state may not have been paid for by the patients but it costs the state government money.”