A clash between the Cross River State Ministry of Education and principals of secondary schools in the state appears imminent, after verified reports reached the ministry that principals are collecting various sums of money from students, above what the ministry directed, as levies to be collected for the 2023/2024 academic session, www calitown.com can report.
Our investigations reveal that, the situation and the compulsiveness with which the principals enforced collection of levies, did not go down well with several parents who had sent their wards to school days after schools reopened. Most of these parents, hoping to benefit from the tuition-free education pronouncement by state governor, Bassey Edet Otu, were however upset when their wards were sent away from school and asked to pay varying sums of money, depending on the class of the students.
While the Ministry of Education in a memo dated 18th September, 2023, titled; “Approved Fees For Secondary Schools Classes 2023/2024 Academic Session”, offered a comprehensive breakdown of what should be paid, the principals have swept this memo under the carpet and have gone ahead to insist that students pay levies above what is stipulated in the memo.
Students in JSS I, II and III, according to the ministry’s memo are expected to pay N4,450, N4,050 and N5,250, respectively, for the first term. In the second term, they are to pay, N2,550 flat, while N2,550 is is what JSS I and II students will pay in the third term. Those is JSS III are to pay N4,050 for the third term, the memo stated.
For students in the senior secondary school, SS I, II and III, the prescribed fees are; SS I, N5,450 for the first term, N3,350 for the second and third terms. SS II, N5,050, first term, N3,550, second term and N5,050, for the third term. N4,750, for first term, N3,550 second term and N3,050 for third term is what SS III students are to pay. But most principals for instance are charging N7, 050, two thousand and a fraction more, for JSS I students in the first term. Those in JSS II have been instructed to pay N20,450, for three terms in one swoop. The story is no different with those in the senior secondary school classes.
When an undercover source visited the Government Technical School, Mayne Avenue, Calabar, early Monday morning after his ward was sent away from school, the levy collector in the school insisted that he must pay N6,350 instead of the stipulated N4,050. The collector quickly notified our source that they are not charging tuition fees but “other charges”. “She said she can’t explain anything to me on how they arrive at that amount that I can go and talk to the Principal”, he told us. The levy schedule that we obtained from the state Commissioner for Education speaks otherwise.
Over the weekend, Stephen Odey, the CRS Commissioner for Education, appeared on local radio station, HIT 95.9 FM, Calabar, categorically stating what levies should be paid across the classes. He also informed the listening public of the total sum of money to be paid per class – the school principals have clearly not worked within the boundaries of the commissioner’s information and instructions.
Journalist and commentator on current issues, Asuquo Solomon, told www.calitown.com that, “…why won’t principals charge extra levies from students when the Management Board of secondary schools are part of this rip off in the system. I hear the immediate past Board Chairman is allegedly still going around demanding payments from principals with a threat that he would be returned to status quo in the new dispensation. The rots in schools are deep-rooted and systemic and need total overhaul and drastic measures to change the narrative.”
Commissioner Odey again informed, in the course of the radio programme, that he was aware of the massive levels of corruption embedded in the system. “I have been informed that most of these Principals are appointed not on merit but after parting with huge sums of money. It is a system I am going to fight against. I know there will be resistance but I plead that you give me just a little time to clean all of these away. In a matter of days, those found culpable will be shown the door out…”
Just before press time, we were informed that Odey has completed plans for a raid of schools to identify and deal with errant principals who have collected the incorrect levies, but we do not know if modalities will be in place to also ensure that parents who have so far paid the incorrect levies to the schools, will get a refund.
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