Abolition Of School Fees Parents Demand Refund Of Levies …Promotion Exams May Be Jeopardized –Teachers
Some Heads of primary and secondary schools in Rivers Sate have expressed worry that the recent order by Governor Nyesom Wike stopping further collection of levies and fees from students and pupils in public schools in the state could lead to the disruption of the state educational system.
The Vortex reporter in a chat with some school heads in the state, report that many of those who spoke were of the opinion that the governor may have acted in error.
According to one of the senior secondary school principal who simply gave her name as Monima said, briefed matter as the charges that were stopped were by the schools to attend to the needs of the schools as approved by the state governments.
She explained that such funds were used for payment of sanitation and disposal of wastes in the schools, and writing materials such as chalks and biros for the teaching staff, adding that the order to start the implementation of the policy with immediate effect, will affect the promotion exams of the schools.
Mrs. Moniwa said the school had levied each student the sum of N1000 for the printing of exam papers, stating that many parents have refused to pay the levies because of the governor’s order, while those who had paid have been coming to demand for the refund of the money.
The principal warned that the school may be forced to defer the promotion examination or write the questions on the black board for those who refuse to pay for the printed exam papers, while those who have paid will make use of the printed question sheets.
She called for thorough needs assessment of individual school to guide the government in the disbursement of the funds as promised by the governor.
Another principal, Mrs. Dagogo (not seal name) attributed the governor’s order to information breakdown between the Schools Board and the governor.
She expressed sadness that the Governor Wike did not allow any officials of the Ministry of Education, the schools Board or any of the heads of schools to speak at the meeting explaining that such an order without listening to stakeholders.
Mrs. Dagogo equally decried the attitude of parents who she said had invaded the school asking to be refunded the fees and levies already paid to the school.
The principal, who display the official list of approved charges for all schools in the state, insisted that the monies collected were used to run the schools and not used by the school heads or teachers for personal purposes.
At primary schools located in the Borokiri area, a Headmistress, who did not want her name on print, said the governor should have waited for the session to end before issuing out order.
She said the new order has put various school heads in a helpless state as issues like disposal of wastes, buying of chalks and other needs would have to wait until government approves funds for the running of the schools in the state.
The Headmistress also lamented that school events like Inter House Sports, end of year get together and other outdoor activities undertaken by the schools for the benefits of the pupils and students would have to stop.
“Extra curricular activities in the educational system would definitely be affected”, she stated.
Meanwhile Governor Nyesom Wike, has dissolved the state Education Board. A statement from the Governors media assistant on Electronic media directed members of the hoard to hand over official properties to the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education.
Meanwhile, Governor Nyesom Wike’s order to headmaster and principals of public primary and secondary schools to stop the collection of fees and levies from pupils and students in the state also attracted reaction from parents, teachers and pupils.
Speaking to The Vortex on the matter, a mother, Mrs. Amaha Eke commended the Governor, stating that the measure will curb the excesses of some school heads, exploit parents by imposing one levy or the other on the pupil.
Mr. George Tombari, a public servant at the state secretariat described the gesture as a welcome development and frowned at schools that collect levies for school certificates exams, and other examination fees despite government warnings.
He urged the state government tell parents how much government was stipulated fees prior arguing that many parents never knew how much the government prescribed as official school fees in the primary and secondary schools.
Mrs. Mimimah Oniye, a teacher in one of the state primary schools in the Port Harcourt Township called for a thorough appraisal of the needs of the respective schools, stressing that funds should be provided to tackle contingency needs of the schools.
She also called on the state government to ensure that funds budgeted to the schools are readily provided to avoid the temptation of teachers and headmasters taking to self-help on the parents.
Oniye frowned at the delay in the payment of teacher’s salaries and allowances which she contended induce teachers asking pupil to pay for minor items in the schools.
Another teacher, who refused to be named, called on the government to provide money for hiring of labors for clearing of grasses and sanitation in the schools as no teacher would want to punish a student or pupil to cut grass or clean the environment for fear of reaction from parents.
Mrs. Rita Adaweli (not real name), a staff of one of the public schools behind the Diete Spiff Civil Centre, described free education in the state as a welcome development.
Adaweli said he does not foresee any difficulty in adhering to the new development, stressing that school heads only need little time to adjust and adapt to whatever difficulties that may arise.
She stated that those levies that were charged before now were not meant for teacher’s personal use but for the development of the schools; emphasizing that if the governor provides the funds to run the schools especially to clean the environment, there will be no difficulty in managing the school.
A pupil in the primary schools, along Moscow Road in Port Harcourt, Beta Berekpo expressed appreciation to the governor for reducing what she termed the burden on her parents. Other pupils who added their voice said they were happy that their parents will no longer be spending money in their education.
Comrade Tobin Alapeka, a public policy commentator wondered how the government intends to implement the program to ensure the smooth administration of the public schools.
He lamented that the governor was banning fees and levies in schools without making plans for adequate rehabilitation of the schools, some of which he stated, lacked school chairs, and books for the pupils and students.
According to him, most of the schools especially in the rural areas have leaking roofs, students and pupil sit on the floor to learn.
He alleged that in most public schools pupils lack school uniforms, books and writing materials, adding that every government approved text books should be supplied to student and pupil.
“In the 1980s, if you go to schools owned by government, you will see government printed exercise and text books supplied to the schools but today, there is no such”, Alapeka declared.
He added that teachers in public schools cannot even afford the needed teaching aids and are owed prolonged salaries. “How do expert these teachers and school heads not to charge levies on pupils and students”, he queried.