AUSTIN OYIBODE, EDITOR
Delta state government has arrested six head teachers, pulled out from the local government areas chief inspectors of education who are in complicity with illegal fees collection and demoted a number of others who were caught red-handed in the collection of unapproved fees from students across primary and post primary institutions in the state.
The commissioner for basic and secondary education, Chiedu Ebie, who was angered by the embarrassment occasioned by the viral video of Success Adegor, a seven-year-old primary three pupil of Okotie Eboh primary school in Sapele, told journalists on Wednesday that despite these efforts being made by the state government, head teachers and principals of schools are still bent on sabotaging the efforts of government.
In a press conference to explain the efforts of the state government towards revamping and rebuilding the schools in the state, the commissioner said no primary or secondary school head is authorized to collect any fee outside the prescribed fee for collection in the state.
He said the prescribed fees which schools are allowed to collect at the beginning of session are N50 for school badge, N250 for report card, N100 for consumables and N750 for sports wears which he said is necessary for students’ use during inter-house sports competitions which hold second term of every session.
According to him, any fee outside these fees, including the examination fee which led to the suspension of the Okotie Eboh Primary School head teacher, Mrs. Vero Igbigwe, is illegal and will attract the anger of the ministry which will be enforced according to civil service rules.
In the press conference, journalists who are also parents and who have been victims of head teachers extortion, bared their minds to the commissioner saying almost all the public secondary and primary schools in the state are guilty of this offence as they impose levies of all kinds on students which the students must compulsorily pay.
Among some of the illegal levies identified are examination fees at the end of every term, admission fees at the beginning of the session, buying toiletries for schools which are shared among teachers, buying brooms, mugs, markers for the schools.
Some of the journalists said the total amount of all these items is more than the school fees which should have been paid by the children, leading to some arguing that it would have been better that school fees are paid so as to bring an end to all the illegal collections or possibly open the opportunity for the schools to collect all the different fees and abandon the title illegal from whatever is being collected by head teachers and principals.
The commissioner, in his response said the Universal Basic Education act is a federal government legislation and it stipulates free education for all basic education across states in the country, adding that in the magnanimity of the state government, it included secondary schools as free for all school children.
He said government cannot do everything alone, hence giving the opportunity for the schools to collect the prescribed fees which he listed as approved by the state ministry of education, but lamented that some head teachers and principals go beyond to impose unapproved levies on school children, warning that anyone caught will pay dearly for the fraud.
He said he cannot act on hearsay, insisting that any parent or whosoever is defrauded by any school authority should come forward and report, noting that appropriate sanctions would be meted out to the culprit according to laid down rules.
He told journalists that he had on several occasions sent out his admin staff to pose as parents to register children where some school heads were caught and appropriate sanctions carried out. He said the ministry did not approve charges for examination, saying such collection is illegal.
The commissioner told journalists that the state government pays subvention to secondary schools to assist them in running the schools, adding that subvention is provided to the schools on monthly basis but failed to say how much is released to the schools in answer to question on subvention as one of the means of stopping illegal collection in the schools.
He also said primary schools collect subvention from the local government councils through the local government education authorities in the different council areas in the state, noting that this is so because primary school teachers are staff of local government councils.