The Kwara State Government, yesterday, confirmed the suspension of three principals and one teacher of different secondary schools within Ilorin metropolis over extortion of funds from parents of their students.
The schools were Bishop Smith Memorial College, Onikanga Road, GRA, Ilorin, St. Barnabas Junior Secondary School, Sabo-Oke, AbdulSalam Secondary School and Muyideen College.
The Commissioner for Education and Human Capital Development, Hajia Bilikisu Oniyangi made this known during an interview with this medium on Wednesday.
She said, “Before the resumption of students on September 17, we had a thorough meeting with the All Nigeria Conference of Principals of Secondary Schools (ANCOPSS) and the Parents Teachers Association (PTA). The main reason we had the meeting was to actually look for ways to reduce the amount of money being collected by PTA from students and we discovered so many loopholes.
“There were unnecessary charges within the levies they were collecting. We reviewed it during the six hours meeting and it was agreed by everyone that the primary school session will charge N450 only for the returning pupils and the new intakes are to pay N700.
“N1,450 for the junior secondary school students and N5,180 for JSS 1 students and the PTA said the amount is a one-off because there are so many things involved which the new intakes will use throughout their junior secondary school. So, we approved the money for them.”
Speaking further, Oniyangi said for the senior secondary school, it was agreed that the returning students will pay N1,500 while new students for SS1 will pay N5,400, which was duly signed with other agreements.
“We also told them there will be no extra charges whatsoever and the riot act was read to them. In fact, we held the meeting twice before students’ resumption and after they resumed, we held another meeting at St. Anthony Secondary School, Ilorin, where principals of all public schools in Kwara State were present. ” I read the riot act again to them and told them specifically that there should be no sub- charges or indirect charges whatsoever, whereby they will ask students to bring bucket, towels, basket, mops, cutlasses, axe and brooms because at the end of the day what are those items meant for in a day secondary school?
“We realised that those principals after collecting these items from the students, they go to the market to sell them. So we said all those sub-charges are totally unacceptable, nobody should do it and we all agreed it is not going to happen.”
Oniyangi stated that after the meeting ended some of the principals said no one can dictate how they will run their school not even the Commissioner.
“Just last Thursday to be précised, we got a call from a parent who said he went to Bishop Smith and actually paid N5,180 but behold he was told that he will not get admission letter for his child until he pays the balance of about N8,000 to make it N13,000.
“He argued with the school management and they told him bluntly that the Commissioner cannot run the school for them. He later agreed to pay the money but on the condition that he was issued a receipt. His request was turned down, hence, he refused to pay and put a call through to us immediately. We thereafter asked him to wait at the school for us.”
The Commissioner stressed that they met the principal and found out that she was extorting the parents which led to her immediate suspension.
“We proceeded to St. Barnabas and we also found a teacher collecting N1,000 extra charges and we suspended her too.
“Then yesterday (Tuesday) in about four other schools, we found out that they were doing same sharp practices and the worst of those schools was Muyideen College where the principal was collecting N8,100 from the students in addition to laundry baskets, bucket, mops, brooms, hoes, cutlass and all the things we noted that are unacceptable. The amount she was charging was even above the senior secondary school. We relieved her as the school principal by asking her to go home immediately.
Speaking further, she said the Principal of Abdulsalam Secondary School was conducting another Common Entrance Examination for new intakes at the rate of N500 which is totally illegal.
“In the name of conducting a new common entrance exam because I don’t see how state government will conduct a common entrance and another person will take it upon herself to conduct a fresh one giving impression that what the state government had done is rubbish.
“The common entrance that the state government conducted was free but this principal was charging N500 per student. Don’t forget that the case of the common entrance exam is still there where we discovered that some teachers were collecting between N3,000 to N11,000 from students and were pocketing it.
“These same teachers are making the public believe that the state government was actually charging them between N3,000 to N11,000 telling them that it was going into the coffers of the government. Meanwhile, the money was going into the pockets of the principals and their executives.”
In a related development, it was gathered that about 55 teachers who were absent from work during a monitoring exercise by the ministry recently have been issued query and their responses being awaited.
Speaking with our reporter yesterday in her office, Oniyangi said, “We have issued the teachers query and a timeframe to reply and once they make the dateline, then we’ll be able to respond to them appropriately. And I can promise you they will be sanctioned.”
The Commissioner however warned teachers and head teachers in the state to be upright and committed to their duties as there will be no hiding place for anyone with the intention of sabotaging government’s efforts in providing qualitative education to our teeming youths.