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Private School Owners Protest In Delta, As SSG Sues For Calm

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By Daniel Dafe, Abraka
Owners of private schools in Delta State under the aegis of National Association of Private School Owners of Nigeria (NAPPS), Delta State Chapter, on Wednesday took to the streets in protest over what they termed as constant harassment/extortion from environmental taskforce posing asCOVID-19 taskforce amongst other reasons.

Oasis Magazine (OM) learnt that NAPPS during the protest also called for the reduction of the annual renewal fee, adding that this should be seen as a palliative to school owners in the state.

Continuing, the education entrepreneurs also said that Delta State is among the few states yet to implement the 9.3.4 system of education, thereby extorting money from private school owners and parents in the name of Cognitive Placement Examination, since they still run the 6.3.3.4 system of education.

OM gathered that the protesters were received by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Chiedu Ebie who assured the aggrieved school owners that the state government will speedily look into their demands.

Meanwhile, the state chairman, Deacon Monday Ifoghere said from the briefing he got from the Vice Chairman of NAPPS in the state, Comrade Onodarho, who was delegated to lead the protests, that it was resolved at the meeting with the SSG in his office that there would be a part waiver of the annual renewal fee to serve as palliatives to private schools.

According to Ifoghere, “the Ministry of Environment was ordered to stay away from Schools with immediate effect and that the deadline for enrollment was shifted to March ending by which time a definite figure of what to be paid is to be made available to school owners.”

His words: “The protesters after protesting for some minutes in front of government house and registering our grievances there proceeded to the office of the Secretary to the State Government where the SSG invited six members to a round table discussion. He also sent for the commissioner, Permanent Secretary and Director of Schools. The Commissioner couldn’t make it but the other two were present.

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“The meeting started with the SSG asking us to state our grievances. The state vice chairman stated them thus: 1. Harassment of members by a so called Covid-19 task force who go about demanding for money from members ranging from #20,000 to #250,000. Many of our members have been falling for this because they threatened to lock up their schools. The SSG immediately corrected that there’s no such committee with such powers set up by the government. He however put a call across to the chairman on Environmental Taskforce and told him to tell his boys not to go to private schools as covid-19 task force anymore.

He then advised that we report anyone that comes to our schools under such guise going forward. 2. That government should waive the renewal of licence for 2021 seeing that we lost revenue during the pandemic and the government didn’t give us any palliative in 2020. 3. A cancellation of the cognitive placement exam in delta state as obtained in most other states of the federation since we now operate the 9-3-4 education system, no longer 6-3-3-4 system. 4. Extending the deadline for the submission of the cognitive placement exam registration.

“The SSG gave analysis why the government will not waive the renewal of license of 2021 outrightly but can consider giving school owners a percentage discount. He however stated that it will take time for this to be agreed upon. So, we should be patient.

“He said that the cognitive placement exam is not compulsory for private schools but for only those pupils that are seeking admissions into public secondary schools. When we pointed out that this is a criteria for enrolling children, public & private alike, for BECE he advised that we weigh the consequences of our decision before holding on to it since we may also be affected by this action.

“Furthermore, he asked the Ministry PS/Director present if anything would get wrong if the date for registration of the cognitive placement exam is extended. When they responded in the negative, he then advised that they extend the date to the end of March (the same date with that of the BECE).

“The Permanent Secretary, Director of the Ministry of Basic and Secondary education as well as the Senior Special Adviser to the SSG also made some valid contributions to the build up to the above decisions.”

Speaking further, Deacon Ifoghere said the rejoinder by the Honourable Commissioner for Education about NAPPS going online has nothing to do with the above meeting with the SSG, saying that “it was a reaction to an earlier memo of 11/02/21 which he said he saw on Facebook.”

He advised members of the association to know how much the discounted renewal fee is before they pay and submit enrollments now that the time frame has been extended.

Continuing, he commended all members that joined the protest.

Meanwhile, the protesters were advised to put their grievances in writing for formal presentation to the SSG and to always exhaust every other avenue of deliberation before taking to the street for protest.

The state Vice Chairman, in company of the state Financial Secretary, Uvwie and Oshimili chairpersons & one-time state Secretary led the delegation of NAPPS Delta State, predominantly members of Oshimili South chapter on the said peaceful protest to the Delta Government house and office of the SSG.

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