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Parents Decry Extortion Under Dickson's Free Education Policy

  • Written by  John ODHE, Yenagoa
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Parents Decry Extortion Under Dickson's Free Education Policy

One policy that endeared Governor Seriake Dickson to the heart of Bayelsans is the declaration of a state of emergency and compulsory free education on primary and secondary schools in the state, upon assumption of office in 2012.

The construction of primary and secondary school blocks and renovation of old ones across the state as well as a return of the boarding system are seen by academic analysts as signs of the state of emergency declared on the sector.

To make the policy work effectively, the governor sent a bill to the state House Assembly titled: Bayelsa state Education Trust Fund which has since been passed by the house and signed into law by the governor.

In line with the education trust fund law, all civil servants and pensioners are taxed on monthly basis to help fund the free education policy.

But the policy of the restoration government is being put to test by the activities of some school administrators in the system.

For instance, some head teachers and principals of primary and secondary schools are reportedly extorting parents of public schools pupils and students despite the huge sums of funds invested in the sector by the present administration.

Some parents who are victims of the alleged extortion have cried to the state government for urgent intervention.

A group of parents under the aegis of Association of Parents/Guardians of Ministry of Women and Children Affairs Nursery/Primary and Secondary Schools, Ovom, Yenagoa, have petitioned the state government, asking for an intervention over alleged collection of school fees in the school.

The said school was established by the then military government under the Family Support Programme, FSP, for poverty alleviation under ministries of women affairs across the states of the country.

A statement signed on behalf of the parents by chairman of the association, Mr. Sampson Tanga and four other parents indicated that school fees had been introduced into the FSP nursery/primary school amounting to the sum of N25,000 per pupil while at the secondary level, each student pays N10,000 tuition fee per term after a preliminary fee of N38,000 per student.

The statement revealed that parents of FSP school had protested against the "unauthorized and illegal fees but the ministry of women and children affairs did not give attention to these protests because the management of the ministry also benefits immensely from the illegal fees".

Also, the management of a public secondary school at Swali community in the state capital is allegedly collecting N1,000 from each one of over a thousand students in the school under the guise of exam fees.

It was gathered that parents of indigent parents who were unable to pay the said sum and other unauthorised levies are being deprived of writing examinations in the school and many other unreported public schools in the state.

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