By Elizabeth Osayande
Members of Parents Teachers Association, PTA, Grace High School, Gbagada, Lagos, have protested the school’s directives that students, who are preparing for the forthcoming West African Senior School Certificate Examination, WASSCE, lodge in hotels to meet up with the timing of the exam.
The protest took place in the early hours of Monday, with protesting parents locked outside the entrance of the school for hours.
Speaking on the WASSCE candidates’ dilemma, one of the aggrieved parents, who simply identified herself as Mrs. Ada, also accused the school of asking them to sign an “indemnity if we want our children to resume, and we were wondering why that was necessary.
“We are SS3 students’ parents, and our children, WASSCE candidates, have been here for six years. The school was supposed to resume on August 4.
“We have a platform where we have been asking grace school management their plans for SSS3, when the government came out with the school resumption plans. But they didn’t tell us anything.
“The Friday before August 4, they called for a PTA meeting via online and asked us to sign an indemnity if we want our children to resume, and we were wondering why that was necessary.
“Because the government didn’t say we should sign any indemnity. The government only asked that the school should put certain things in place for schools to resume.
“They now came back and said they are not opening the hostel facility. This is a school that has children from all over Lagos; considering the fact that 3rd Mainland and Eko bridges are blocked.
“The school refused to resume on August 4, as other schools did. They have taken a week away from revision, and they are just resuming today (Monday), and these children have Maths for their WAEC on August 17.
“And they said the school would only operate between 9am and 12 noon. So just three hours of school.
“So parents of WASSCE candidates will leave their work and come and drop these children by 9am; I don’t know how they expect the children to go home.
“So on the platform, we were complaining that we need to have access to the hostel because that is part of our contract with them.
“And the Vice Principal, Mr. Balogun, had the effrontery to tell us to take our children to hotels in Gbagada, that if we cannot bring our children, that they cannot open their hostels.
“So we came here to even ask to see what they have in place since they can’t accommodate our children. But they said no, and kept us outside since 6:30am.”
The parents also accused the school of calling armed mobile policemen on them to disallow them from gaining entrance into the school premises.
PTA Chair reacts
Expressing frustration over issue, the PTA Chairman, Engr. Matin Etta, said: “They did one meeting last week Friday and wanted to open the school next week (August 17), same day WASSCE candidates would start exams.
“But we kicked against that and suggested they open today(Monday), before they reasoned with us, giving the psychological burden.
“On the issue of boarding, for some people, boarding is the first checklist of deciding to take their children to school.
“There are many parents who wouldn’t have come to Grace High School if there were no boarding house.
“So I said to them, to please consider opening it, based on the distance between where children live and school. But they refused.
“I even called the administrator yesterday(Sunday) and he said they didn’t get the approval to open boarding. I know schools not up to Grace High School’s standard that have opened boarding.
“The second thing they can do if they don’t want to open the boarding house, is to call parents together, and plead with parents that live closer to accommodate children that live far.
“The school can exploit this avenue instead of telling us to go and lodge my 13 years old child in a hotel in this age and time, where sexual crimes are everywhere.
“There are some things that should not be said. It is wrong.”
The parents later dispersed one after the other after several hours of waiting for the school management to address them, to no avail.
Efforts to get the school’s reaction on the allegations over WASSCE candidates by the parents proved abortive.
However, the school Public Relations Officer, Mr. Aypdeji Ayopo, said he was going to get back to back with a reaction, which he had not done at press time.