Facts are yet to be unveiled on the seeming corruption bedevilling education sector in Kwara State just as citizens expressed dissatisfaction over the ugly situation.
Findings have revealed that despite the Kwara State priding itselve with “every child count” slogan, that it provides free education across state-owned primary and secondary schools, the blueprint is still very far from reality as parents are mopped to the last dime to pay for their children/wards, FELLOW PRESS learnt.
According to investigations, each student pays between N1800 and N2300 per term, amounting to N6,900 annually from the purse of parents who have just a child in public school. The figure will be astronomical if such parents have more than one children/wards of school age.
Although, the state tags this payment ‘School Fees’, but PTA levies, and has decided that issuing receipt for such payment is unnecessary.
Non issuance of receipt is another means of encouraging corruption and not making transparency a reality in line with one of the core agenda of Nigerian government of eliminating corruption aside recovering the economy, maintaining security as well as boosting agriculture among others.
How will parents know if a child has indeed paid his or her school fees without such student being issued a receipt?
We pay Commissioner every term — Account clerk
Speaking with an account clerk in one of the popular government school in the state, it was gathered that the sum of N200 from the fees paid by each students goes to the pocket of the Commissioner of Education in the state. Each school usually has an average of 1800 students in a single school, thereby, earning the state around N360,000.
Attempt by any school to circumvent this rule of remission is always met with serious and unpardonable sanctions from the commissioner.
“He usually call each term, in a threatening voice asking if we have paid his money which we dare not object to if we truly want to continue as teachers of Kwara State,” the account clerk, who pleaded anonymity revealed.
Another source told our correspondent that schools are mandated to remit additional money into the bank accounts of both state and local governments. Whereas, the same government is publicly announcing that education is free but at the same time being part of those who share school fees the poor students pays, making the state government culpable in the financial impropriety.
Comply or face wrath of authority
Another source said that school administrators must comply with the rule of repatriating certain percentages to the Commissioner, state and local government otherwise face stern sanctions from the powers that be.
Giving an instance of a particular school mistress in one of the primary schools in the state, the source said, “This rule of collecting school fees and delivering cuts to the government is expected to be strictly adhered to, or the school principal will be in trouble.
“There was case of an headmistress who argued her case with the authority not to exploit pupils in her school. She was punished with suspension but after pleading she was pardoned but posted to a school situated in remote rural area,” the source said.
Government keeps mute and insisted that education is free and also that every child counts and that monies paid by students are for PTA levies which will be used for maintaining school facilities.
School Principals and Headmasters have also turned the school fees collection to a money making venture. Although tagged PTA levies, the payment are barely used for the development and maintenance of the schools. The government has entrusted some expenses to the care of schools, such as provision and repair of desks and chairs, payment of electricity, provisions of additional books in the library and hiring part-time subject teachers not readily provided by the state amongst others.
But the truth is that the school principals hardly execute any project, as broken windows and doors, broken desks and some pupils are left sitting on bare floor while taking classes and during examinations .
State governments should man up to its responsibility of catering for primary and secondary schools education. Anything worth doing is worth doing well, with utmost sincerity and truthfulness. State government can not claim to offer free education and yet let such acts of impropriety be carried out under its nose.
This spiral of silence on the part of the state is totally unwarranted in this democratic dispensation and relevant authority should address the issue to maintain sanity in Kwara State public schools.