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Gbemre Says DTSG Aids Illegal Fees Collection In Schools

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Social justice advocate, Zik Gbemre has blamed the impunity of extortion by heads of public basic schools in Delta state on government insensitivity to proper monitoring and failure to provide basic needs in the schools.

Advocate News reports that Gbemre, National Coordinator, Niger Delta Peace Coalition (NDPC) expressed the concern following the report of collection of N2000 as examination fee by the authorities at Jeremi Secondary School, Otu-Jeremi, headquarters of Ughelli South Local Government Area.

Some parents at the school had been agitated at the N2000 exam charges, but the new School Principal, Mrs Emily Obokome explained, “They (students) were not told to pay N2000. They use to pay that before, but when I came, they were told to pay N1500” now.

Gbemre’s anger over the development rests on a statement by the Commissioner for Basic Education, Patrick Ukah, expressing “zero tolerance for illegal levies, reiterating that any Principal or School Head caught in the act will face the wrath of the law” while also asserting that some school heads were being investigated.

The NDPC boss said, “This is another reminder that government is only good at churning outlaws without the will of enforcement. The commissioner is either being hypocritical or simply doesn’t care. That to me is tacit aiding and abetting of management misconducts in the schools.

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“A commissioner is alerted of a specific case and he’s talking of investigating some school heads. The Delta state government has school inspectors in various localities it pays every month to monitor and enforce decorum in the schools.

What does it take to confirm or disprove a case of extortion that can’t be done in a matter of hours? And in fairness to the School Heads, some of these illegal collections are excusable because government fails in its duty to provide basic needs in the schools.

“I have seen the approved fees for basic schools often published by Ukah and N2000 or N1500 exam fees is not one of them, but then the Ministry has failed to provide printed examination questions papers it pledged to do for the schools.

“So school heads lash on government failure pass the burden to parents but that’s not enough for a school head to ask for unapproved N2000 exam fees for public schools at an era government is determined to ensure that no child of School-age is denied basic education due to charges majority peasants parent can’t afford. From what we gathered, the slash from N2000 was even after the host community leadership intervened.”

Recall that the Delta State Government has repeatedly warned Principals and School Heads who indulge in the collection of illegal levies in public primary and post-primary schools in the state to stop or face sanction.

The state Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, Mr. Patrick Ukah, in a statement in Asaba recently stated that the state government has zero-tolerance for illegal levies reiterating that any Principal or School Head caught in the act will be made to face the full wrath of the law.

He said that parents and guardians who pay such illegal levies are encouraging the Principals and School Heads to do what they are doing and charged them to resist it and report such erring Principal or School Head to the appropriate authority for necessary action.

Mr. Ukah cautioned Principals and School Heads involved in the ignoble act to retrace their steps and turn a new leaf as any of them that collects a kobo more than the approved levies will be sanctioned appropriately.

He disclosed that some of them are presently been investigated on allegations of collection of illegal levies, adding that those found culpable will face appropriate disciplinary actions.

The Commissioner listed the approved levies for public primary schools to include school badge for primary one to primary six, N50.00 every 3 years, report cards for the primary one and transfer pupils, N250.00 every 6 years, consumables for primary one to primary six, N100.00 per term.

For students in public post-primary schools, all students are to pay N150.00 every session for school badge, N200.00 every 3 years for students’ identity card, N200.00 termly for consumables, and SS 1 to SS 111, N300.00 termly for sports/NSSF levy.

All students, including transfer students, will pay N250.00 termly for a customized online result, while JS 1 to SS 1 and transfer students are to pay N150.00 for student’s file every three years, adding that all the payments are normally made into the school accounts.

Mr. Ukah stated that even if the Parents’ Teachers’ Associations (PTAs) of schools are to do any intervention in any school, such decision must be taken during a general meeting of the body where the members will agree on a particular amount to be paid and approval is given by the Commissioner for the collection to be legal.

The Basic and Secondary Education Commissioner clarified that the money collected should be paid into the account of the PTA whose executive officers are expected to disburse the funds to meet the objective for which the levy was agreed on.

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