By By Kasarachi Azuka, Asaba
A little sacked from school for levies cried out and a citixen journalist captured it on tape. The video goes viral and sympathizers came to award scholarship to little Success. Now, the Delta State Government finds that its teachers had been massively collecting fees whereas there is no fee. Now, the government has wielded the big stick.
Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, Chiedu Ebie, has said that the state government has sanctioned a lot of teachers in its school system over various forms of misconduct, including collection of unauthorized levies from pupils and students.
Ebie who disclosed that such sanctions included the demotion of the teachers was however not specific on the number of teachers that have been affected in this regard, saying they were encountable. Sources put the number at over 30.
Ebie who said this in the week while addressing newsmen in Asaba,said the latest was Vero Igbigwe, the head-teacher of Okotie-Eboh Primary School, Sapele Local Government Area of the state, whose action, he said, has brought embarrassment to the state government in the last one week following the viral video of Success Adegor, a pupil who was sent home for not paying her exam fee. He said Igbigwe has been placed on suspension until the outcome of investigation on the matter.
He said the state runs a free education but that N100 exam fees are charged as well as N750 flat rate for all pupils for the sake of sports attire. Apart from these, any other forms of fees or levies collected were illegal.
He regretted that despite the fight he had put up against such negative practices when he came on board as commissioner, the trend has continued unabated. Hence he said, all teachers caught in the act had not been spared.
He however disclosed that one of the challenges faced by the ministry has been the overwhelming number of schools requiring one form of infrastructural intervention or the other. “Delta State has a total number of 2,271 nursery/primary schools, 1,096 secondary schools and six technical colleges yearning for attention”, he said.
He disclosed that the state provides the schools with subventions,adding that what each school gets depends on where the school belong –whether Universal Basic Education (UBE), model schools or state schools. He said that a review of the subventions were on-going for the schools to be paid monthly instead of quarterly which had been the method of the payments.
According to him, “to enhance access to education and in consonance with Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 4), the UBE Act and the new national policy on education, Ifeanyi Okowa-led administration established a total of 46 new schools. This is made up of 12 primary and 34 secondary schools, most of them in rural and difficult to reach areas of the state.”
This, he said has helped to reduce proportion of out of school boys and girls. A number of new schools were being being proposed for rural areas to decongest urban schools, Ebie added. He said that although teaching and learning materials were also part of the challenges of the ministry, the situation were being addressed as more and more teachers are presently being employed into the school system.