The State Commissioner for Education, Dr. Onyebuchi Chima has debunked the rumour making the rounds in the state that students and pupils are compelled to pay outrageous taxes to government which allegedly make them troupe to neighbouring states for their academic pursuit.
The commissioner and other stakeholders in the sector made the clarification during a press conference in the state where they insisted that the incumbent government was poised to provide quality education so as to guarantee rapid development and would never use education as means of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).
To that effect, he disclosed that the state government has put in place N7.1 billion naira for rehabilitation of the educational sector in the state.
According to him, quality education will provide guaranteed development which is the reason behind the establishment of vocational school, school for gifted children, adult education and others free of charge as a way to raise best brains.
Dr. Chima described as false, the payment of N250 infant tax by primary school pupils in the state and explained that the said N250 fee is developmental levy as a way to assist government to improve the sector to enviable heights.
He accused proprietors of private schools of extorting parents of the developmental levy when they are expected to pay government from the school fee they already collected.
Dr. Chima disclosed that the state government is fighting tooth and nail to curb corruption in all ramifications and called for prompt and accurate information about any anomaly in the schools for necessary actions, disclosing that government has plans in place to give grants to private schools to ensure efficiency.
He noted that all levies in the state always pass through thorough scrutiny of the state executive council, hence the fee for West African Examination Commission (WAEC) examination is subsidized to N16,600 and that of National Examination Council (NECO) is N12,500 which is the lowest when compared to what is obtainable in other States of South East Nigeria.
The commissioner expressed readiness of the state government to accept investors in the educational sector, adding that over 15,000 teachers of both public and private schools shall be retrained this year on the modern techniques for effective teaching and learning.
On their parts, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Private Schools Development Barr. Frank Onwe, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education, Mrs. Blessing Ezeoke, an education consultant, Prof John Ekeh stated that education is free in the state and shall remain free.
They challenged critics to call people in others states and compare situation of things.
They called for transformation of our mind frames towards paying taxes since it is used in development of the area.
Speaking during the press briefing, the State Chairman of National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS), Ebonyi State Chapter, Mr. Kingsley Igboke thanked the state government for the cordial relationship with the association and pledged their unalloyed support to all its policies and programmes.
Meanwhile, in a statement signed by the state Commissioner for Education, Dr. Onyebuchi Chima, the government noted that only N16,600 was approved for WAEC and N12,500 for NECO for all the students both in private and public schools.
He warned them to desist from such act, refund with immediate effect any overcharge or face disciplinary action or demotion.
Dr. Chima said, “It has come to the knowledge of Ebonyi State Ministry of Education that some public and private schools are collecting between N35,000- N40,000 per candidate. Let it be categorically clear that the only approved WAEC and NECO fees in Ebonyi state are N16,600 and N12,500 respectively. Any other charges above these are illegal and unacceptable by Ebonyi state government.”
“Consequently, the state Commissioner for Education hereby warns all principals of public schools collecting more than the government approved Examination fees in Ebonyi state to desist from such act and to refund with immediate effect all such overcharge or face disciplinary action of demotion.”
“The Commissioner appreciates parents and other stakeholders who have oversight in the activities of schools in their communities and call on members of the public to report any school principal or head discovered to engage in the collection of unapproved fees directly to the ministry”, the statement said.