Many thanks everyone, for following. You know I’d normally not talk about this on the platform, but I think it’s OK we talk about the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic on the school businesses we run. It’s only professional of us as business owners to take precautionary measures to secure and preserve the well being of the numerous lives and families that constitute our school communities – parents, children, staffs.
The financial well being of our staffs for instance, depends indirectly or in most cases, directly on the security of their jobs in our schools. So, why shouldn’t we take some time to understand and possibly mitigate the economic effects of the present situation.
This I say, not ignoring the obvious apprehension and awareness already in every space. Please don’t panic, just like Ebola, this too will pass. So this article holistically assesses the possible impacts of the COVID 19 challenge on school operations and then rightly prepares us to be on top of the situation, as far as our business is concerned.
Now, China is making progress with their battle against the outbreak with a drastic reduction of new cases recorded as of 13th March, 2020 – the lowest number of daily new cases recorded since Jan 16. In other countries however, more cases are being recorded. Again, no need to panic. It’s the nature of every pandemic, it rises, and then suddenly, fizzles out!
Here in Nigeria, 12 cases have been confirmed so far. There have also been a few recoveries. Once again, no worries, The Federal Government has stepped up caution by ordering a temporary ban on flights from 13 high risk countries. These include China, US, UK and Iran.
So, while we pray for a complete flush out of the minimal cases we have in Nigeria, the biggest immediate impact this will have right now on our businesses is the seeming apprehension in the minds of customers(parents) as regards our preparedness for prevention in school. What could follow next term is the possible delay in payments expected from parents, should we record little or no visible progress with our containment of the situation. Now that schools have been shut temporarily, this article prepares us adequately for any outcome. The following points are worthy of note.
1. ASSURE AND RE-ASSURE YOUR PARENTS THAT YOU’RE AWARE OF THE SITUATION
This is not the time to be silent. Never assume they already know. Pandemics hate awareness, just as darkness loathes light. Communicate frequently with your parents and assure them you know what the precautionary measures are. Educate your parents, teachers and children practically about washing of hands and the use of hand sanitizers.
A good way to assure customers confidence is to post to them the Nigeria Ministry of Health’s Daily/weekly update of the COVID 19 situation in Nigeria.
2. PREPARE FOR AN ECONOMIC SLOWDOWN.
Already there’s a record of economic slowdown across major economies. Nigeria’s earning from crude oil has crashed in the last two weeks. When this happens, government spending slows down, and so does money in circulation. This is what led to the recession in 2016.
While we do not pray for another recession, it’s never a bad idea to prepare for every situation. So,
SPEND ONLY WHEN AND IF YOU HAVE TO
For many schools, the largest spending points are salaries, transportation construction/Rent and procurement of expensive teaching aides and facilities. I will try to touch on these areas.
3. BE PRUDENT WITH SALARIES –
Consider, pruning your labour force. Weed off redundant hands. People who have no specific job roles. Why employ expatriates as principal or administrators when you can higher cheaper and more experienced hands. Don’t spend because you have the money, always insist on the best deals. Don’t be too shy to negotiate and get as low as N1,000 discounts of deals. If you have to purchase such a product for 200 students, you would have saved N200,000.
4. CONSIDER NOT TAKING LOANS AT THIS TIME
Trust me, this is not the best times to procure credit except you’re confident of more than one healthy source of repayment. Even where the banks are wooing you into it, (as they’d always do), consider not taking any until the COVID 19 Uncertainties abate. This is not the time to subject oneself to unusual pressure. If schools’ resumption next term is delayed, there’d be some pressure. Teachers will be on your neck to be paid and parents will be reluctant to pay too. So, consider not taking loans at this time
5. CONSIDER STREAMING CLASSES AND SCHOOL WORK ONLINE WITH THINKALLY.NET School Management Software.
In many other countries where school have been shut while the situation is still being contained, students are still being engaged through online classes, classwork, homework and group work.
6. THINKALLY SCHOOL MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE IS EQUIPPED FOR THIS.
Your teachers can access schemes of work, submit lesson notes and plans and teach lessons online. Students can also access school work online on Thinkally School Management Software. We do not pray it gets to that, but there’s no harm in embracing technology when the need arises for it. Even where schools run normally, I advise you to seize this opportunity to introduce this technology to your school. I should also mention that
WITH THINKALLY.NET, CLASSES AND EXAMS CAN BE TAKEN ONLINE, RESULTS CAN BE CHECKED ONLINE AND SCHOOL FEES PAYMENT CAN ALSO BE MADE VIA THE PORTAL.
Visit THINKALLY.NET or call 08069462143 to sign up.
7. CUT YOUR EXPENSES ON TRANSPORTATION
Some schools are revising their transportation arrangements with parents. If a parent can drop off and pick up their children’s to and from school, why not allow them. School owners at tines spend between 25 and 40 % of their profits on transportation. Many times, there’s even no profit. Bus engines, spare parts, fuels and servicing, drivers and bus attendants, take all the profit. Sure the transportation brings exposure, but if that comes at a cost too huge, you may have to review your business model. These are certainly not times to waste any resources, you will need them to stay afloat at a time of economic slow down.
8. CONSIDER PAUSING PROJECTS THAT ARE NOT NEEDED IN THE SHORT TERM.
I know you may have been in the business long enough to understand all these, but a reminder will not harm. School projects costs huge investment, and many times you don’t get returns until the parents appreciate them and perform better in payment and referrals. You may consider holding your funds for a while until the dust of apprehension clears off the air.
9. STEP UP HYGIENE IN THE SCHOOL
Hand washing is a life saver in itself. Demonstrate to your teachers, staffs and children, the proper way to wash hands thoroughly. Health experts say, water (and soap) flowing onto the hands even gently from an improvised water bucket tap while the hands scrub each other for 20 seconds will wash off germs ideally.
Provide hand sanitizers at every corner of your school compound. Tell your teachers to be vigilant of every illness symptoms in the children. Encourage parents to keep their wards at home, should they show any sign of illness as fever.
10. SOCIAL DISTANCING IS ALSO KEY
The reason we’re called intellectuals is our ability to reason in ways that dignify corporate human existence and well being. If you don’t have to attend that party or social function, please stay home. The summary is that we slow down on our social interactions or at least conduct them with a kind of awareness and caution that was absent when there was no pandemic.
10. ABOVE ALL, LET’S BE PRAYERFUL,
As other pandemics have come and gone, this too will pass.
David Adeniji – Convener, School Owners Forum