… as education ministry hikes FSLC levy by 150%
- We’ll not harmonise fees – Govt
The recent decision by the Ogun State Government to increase some levies being paid by both primary and secondary school students in public and private schools across the state has continued to raise concerns amongst private school owners and parents, who are at the receiving end of such an action.
Specifically, tongues have continued to wag on the recent shocking announcement by the state Ministry of Education that primary pupils in public schools, who used to collect their First School Leaving Certificates free of charge and their private school counterparts, who were paying N500 each, would, henceforth, have to cough out N1000 and N2000, respectively, to obtain the document.
Private school proprietors and parents are, however, not comfortable with this 150 per cent increase in the fee to be paid for the collection of the certificate by each pupil and have begun to voice out their opposition to it.
The main grouse of the private school owners is the discrimination in the new fee payable by pupils from the private and public schools in the state. They are demanding a reversal of the policy by making the fee uniform.
The state President of the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools, Alhaji Rilwan Hassan, condemned the imposition and increment, saying such an insensitive action was uncalled for.
Hassan claimed that the private school owners in the state were never consulted by the officials of the ministry before raising the fee for the certificate.
The NAPPS president also wondered why the government introduced such a discrimination in the fee payable by the pupils in private and public schools.
He said, “We were not officially informed about the increment, no meeting or dialogue was held to that effect. What the ministry did was to invite me and the secretary for a meeting, prior to the public announcement, to inform us about their decision. They had already concluded on the matter before the invitation. It was a non-negotiable meeting.”
The NAPPS Executive Council has, however, vowed that pupils in private schools across the state will only pay N1000 as their counterparts in public schools for the document.
NAPPS, therefore, advised the government to bring the fees on a par in order to avoid a situation where the matter would degenerate into a confrontation with the state Ministry of Education.
The association’s executive council at the end of a meeting on the matter, said, “We have decided, unequivocally, as an association, to pay the same fee of One Thousand Naira only newly increased for the First School Leaving Certificate as being paid by the public schools as against the discriminatory levy of Two Thousand Naira imposed on Private Schools’ parents. “We take this decision firmly and irrevocably. We appeal to government to do the needful in order to avoid unnecessary confrontation between our association and the State Ministry of Education.” Speaking with our correspondent, Hassan reiterated that there was no justification for the increment in the fee for the certificate.
He also stressed that the private schools had been paying increased fees in other areas such as the Basic Education Certificate Examination raised by 50 per cent from N2, 500 to N5, 000.
Some other private schools owners also expressed their opposition to the recent increase and discrimination in the FSLC fee.
The Proprietress, Al-Mumin Nursery and Primary School, Obafemi Owode, Ibafo, Mrs. Kafayat Abdulazeez, said that there shouldn’t be any form of discrimination in the fee, noting, “The private schools pay tax unlike the public schools. More so, it is too high. The parents are not ready to pay because they have paid for it at the beginning of the session. The ministry shouldn’t have suddenly introduced such a levy, it could be taken gradually. If at all there would be increment, it should be in the next session and there shouldn’t be discrimination.”
Abdulazeez lamented that since she could not inform the parents about the new fee for the certificate because they had paid the old fee from the beginning of the session, she would have to foot the bill.
She said there was no justifiable reason for the difference in the amount that should be paid by the pupils from the private and public schools for the certificate.
“They are not giving us any amenities and we are not bothered about that. We used to pay N500 for the FSLC. I support NAPPS’ decision of the payment of the same amount,” Abdulazeez added. Similarly, the Proprietress, Toris School, Sagamu, Chief (Mrs) Risikat Ogunjimi, told our correspondent that she wouldn’t subscribe to the payment of the discriminatory fee because not all the private schools charged the same amount.
Ogunjimi said, while some schools could afford to pay the fee, others might not be that bouyant.
According to her, some of the pupils in private schools may not get to primary six before they gain admission into secondary school.
She further said that many of the pupils often times even never returned for their certificates after graduation.
A retired head teacher in Orudu- Oluwo, Ifo Local Government Area of the state, Mrs. Ola Oluwabiye, noted that the collection of the certificate was totally free when she was in service.
Oluwabiye said that the ministry would only list the names of the pupils and direct them to the local government education authority for collection.
Public school head teachers, however, declined to speak with our correspondent on the issue.
Mr. Johnson Onifade of the Saint James Anglican Primary School, Odeda, said that the teachers could not oppose the payment of the levy as it had always been the practice.
Speaking in the same vein, the Chairlady, Parents Teachers Association, Anglican Primary School, Abeokuta North, Mrs. Ronke Ajibade, said that the school had met with the parents and teachers to decide on the new levy.
“Both parties are comfortable with the fee and they are willing to pay,” she said.
Also, parents whose wards attend private primary schools reacted to the payment of the new levy.
A mother, who simply identified herself as Iyabeji, has three children in the lower basics. She told a different story, accusing the private schools of taking advantage of the new fee to exploit parents.
She claimed that each of the school attended by her children billed her N6, 000 for the collection of the FSLC, which she had paid already.
Similarly, Mrs. Ada Nwokoye said her child’s school charged N5,000 for the certificate, noting that NAPPS should not complain about the discriminatory fee because the members of the association had been in the habit of collecting indiscriminate high fees from parents.
Reacting to the demand by NAPPS, the state Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Modupe Mujota argued that the state government’s action was a step in the right direction and could not be reversed.
Mujota said, “We will not harmonise the fees as long as they too have not made education free in their private schools. Would it be fair for me to say they should regularise their own fees? How many times have they invited parents for a dialogue before they increased the fees?
“We haven’t increased in four years and more so, we need to ensure that the less privileged pupils also have access to the same quality of education as their counterparts. We need to cater for them. We are trying our best that everyone works at the same pace and progress.”