Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba
The Delta State Government has announced its decision to discontinue the payment of examination fees for its students preparing for the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).
It said henceforth, each candidate will have to bear the responsibility of paying the enrollment fees instead of the state government bankrolling everything for all the students as introduced by the immediate past administration.
The Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, Mr. Chiedu Ebie, who made the announcement, also revealed that the government has approved the upward review of boarding fees in all public schools with such facilities. Boarding fees have been increased to N40,000 per term from the 2016/2017 session.
The government said it decided to discontinue paying the WASSCE fees because it realised that the privilege was grossly abused instead of being effectively utilized by the beneficiaries, candidates and parents. It decried the practice of some parents who enroll their children in “special exams centres” or “miracle centres”, thereby causing the government to waste the huge funds committed to enroll the candidates.
Ebie disclosed this at an interactive session with the executive and members of the All Nigerian Confederation of Principals of Secondary Schools (ANCOPSS), Delta State Wing, held at Osadenis Mixed Secondary School, Asaba.
He was accompanied by the Chairman, Post Primary Education Board (PPEB), Dr. Patrick Akporuno; third member PPEB, Mrs. Ifeomah Agboma; Permanent Secretaries, Mr. David Onokpe and Mr. Coleman Agbegha; as well as PPEB zonal permanent secretaries, directors and chief inspectors of education in the ministry.
He however said the government will continue to fund all internal examinations including Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE), cognitive/placement examination, first and second term examinations and the promotion examinations in public schools.
Ebie said the government considered it expedient to increase boarding fees to N40,000 per term with effect from the 2016/17 session to meet the economic realities of the day, as well as assist the schools in providing decent feeding and increased maintenance of the facilities.
He stated that government in its consideration of the cardinal role of schools sports in the overall school health and in line with the yearnings of the public has approved the re-introduction of N200 NSSF levies per term to enable schools meet up with the school sports component of the curriculum and in particular conduct and participate in the compulsory inter-house sports competitions.
He reiterated the state government’s zero tolerance to collection of levies under any guise by school heads, chief inspectors of education and local government education secretaries or anyone involved in the administration of schools.
He however stressed that PTA collections were permissible but must be at the instance and in conjunction with parents, subject to prescribed guidelines and approval by the ministry.
While congratulating the teachers, who he described as great, Ebie charged them to cultivate the culture of diligence, hard work, professionalism and administrative competence in all ramifications.
“Delta State Government is resolutely committed to teachers’ welfare as well as provision of quality and effective education in the state.”
While expressing the sincerity of the current administration to ensure success in the education system, the commissioner said the government has demonstrated sincere passion for revamping ailing school structures, as well as zeal for technical and vocational education despite the harsh economic climate in the state and the country.
He said the governor’s zeal for technical and vocational education is seen through the “human capital development of professional teachers as government has been magnanimous in approving study leave with pay for teachers with over 30 teachers benefiting in 2016, including 15 who are pursuing doctoral degree programmes.”
Ebie promised that the government would not relent in rewarding deserving teachers by way of promotion as demonstrated in the approval for promotion of 8,910 secondary school teachers, consisting of 4,047 for 2015 and 4,863 for 2016. He added that 39 teachers on salary grade levels 16 step 9 were recently approved for promotion to salary grade level 17.
According to him, the government has a renewed focus on French education in schools as a second language and has concluded plans for the redistribution of French teachers to the 56 pilot French teaching schools across the state including a training programme for French teachers soon.
He announced that the cognitive/placement and BECE results have been released and the processes of admission have commenced in earnest.
“Going forward, the admission process into schools must be concluded within a stipulated timeframe and this year all admissions must be concluded by October 31 to enable everyone focus on academic matters.”