Parents and teachers in public secondary schools in Ekiti State doffed their hats to the state government for paying the administrative charges of students sitting for this year’s Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) prepared by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC).
Stakeholders who spoke with this correspondent in Ado-Ekiti, described the action as a step in the right direction, and urged the government to do more to cushion the effects of the economic hardship in the country.
Dr. Kayode Fayemi, the state governor, had on March 1st approved the sum of N24 million for the payment of administrative charges for 13,390 candidates in public secondary schools across the state who would write the April/May 2019 examination.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Mr. Ayodeji Ajayi, who made this known in his office in Ado Ekiti said the approved sum would cover both the administrative charges and other incidental expenses relating to the examination.
He therefore directed all school principals in the state not to collect any money from any candidate who would be writing the examination.
Just before the latest development, the government had also paid the SSCE fees of all public secondary students across the state in addition to the free education policy approved in October last year.
The government had also cancelled education levies of between N500 and N1000 imposed by the previous government of Mr. Ayodele Fayose on both public and private primary and secondary schools respectively across the state in 2015.
A parent, Joseph Babatunde, said, “Though most parents would have loved that the state government goes the whole hog by paying the entire WAEC examination fees of both students in public and private schools, we can’t but appreciate the kind gesture of the state government.
“No matter how little it may seem, it is something that will reduce the financial pressure on the parents, especially at this period that things are very tight for everybody, especially the low income earners.”
Another parent, Mr. Akinwumi Oriade, described the gesture as laudable and “a welcome development” but quickly added that “I hope it is not politically motivated since we are in election period.”
While appreciating the governor for the gesture, he said government should do more to alleviate the suffering of parents in the state.
A school principal, who pleaded not to be mentioned, lauded the state authorities for the effort, but said the government should not have cancelled everything to enable the school based managements generate more money to run the schools.
He noted that providing quality education required the support and cooperation of all stakeholders in the state. “Even in advanced countries of the world, you don’t expect everything to be free. Stakeholders must feel that they are doing something to contribute to the education of their wards,” he said.
Another principal, who gave his name as Idowu, said the gesture would serve as a serious relief to parents who are finding it difficult to meet the family’s needs. He commended Governor Fayemi for the steps so far taken to boost the education sector since he assumed office in October, last year.
He said the new steps were taken to improve access and quality and would not affect the existing policies in running of the schools.
He said, “Recall that the governor has also cancelled all kinds of levies including the ones former Governor Ayo Fayose introduced. The governor also cancelled fees in schools and has paid the WAEC fees of all our students sitting for this year’s exam.”
According to him, the government approved certain sum of money as maintenance cost to schools to ease the effects the policies might have on them.
“He (the governor) has warned that we should not send any pupil or student out of the school on account of non-payment of any fee or levy.”
While reacting to the development, the special assistant to the governor on public communication, Mr. Segun Dipe, said the gesture was part of government’s numerous efforts to bring succour to parents in the state.
He said one of the cardinal programmes of the Fayemi-led government is to restore the glory of education in the state.
He mentioned some of the efforts of the government in the sector since inception to include payment of WAEC fees, regular payment of salaries to civil servants and payment of core subjects allowance to teachers among others promising that the government would do more.
He pleaded with the residents of the state to continue to support the government in its effort to bring succour to the people.