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Thursday, 13 October 2016

Free education: Parents accuse Lagos schoolteachers of extortion

Some parents of pupils of the Ojodu Primary School II, owned by the Lagos State Government have accused some teachers in the school of extorting money from them.
They said the teachers usually gave their children a list of fees estimated at thousands of naira every term despite the government’s declaration that education was free in the state.
The parents, who spoke to PUNCH Metro on condition of anonymity to save their children from being victimised, said the teachers in the school compelled pupils to buy textbooks, which were supposed to be given out free as directed by the state government.
They also alleged that the school charged each pupil N500 for desks every term.
One of the aggrieved parents said a list given to her child, who is in primary four, included Verbal and Quantitative, N800; Macmillan Champion Primary Mathematics, N1,200; lesson fee, N1,000 (every month); padlock, N500.
She said, “I paid N8,500 to the school when she joined the school in the 2014/2015 session. ‘Not for sale’ is written on the textbooks, but the teachers insisted that pupils must pay to get them. They keep giving them the list every term. And if we refuse, they will flog our children. Last term, N300 was collected from each of them to repair the school gate.
“I kept quiet all these while, thinking things would change. However, she brought another list home which got me angry. I bought the recommended textbooks, but she said her teacher insisted she would not use them because she did not buy them from the school.
“Her sister, who finished from the school last term, was given a list of items she must pay for before she could graduate. She had paid for all the items in the list except the testimonial fee. The school has not given her the testimonial because she has not paid for it.”
Another parent wondered why the teachers collected the fees when the government had warned all the public schools in the state against such.
She said her son had been beaten and sent home on two occasions because she had not paid the lesson fee.
“It is quite unfortunate that this kind of extortion is going on in a Lagos public school. If it is transparent, we will understand. But teachers collect these fees without the knowledge of the government. We pay N500 for desks that the government provided every term. Lesson fee is between N500 and N1,000 every month and it is compulsory for all the pupils. In my child’s class alone, they are more than 40. The teachers are just making money for themselves,” she added.
A trader said she went to the school last session to contest the fees, but her child was punished after she left, adding that the school’s head teacher was aware of the alleged extortion.
Another parent, whose son is in primary five, urged the state government to wade into the matter.
She said, “The government should investigate because this is not about Ojodu Primary School II alone. Teachers compel them to pay for markers, buckets and dustbins. If a N300 bucket gets missing, they tell the pupils to contribute N100 each. It is wrong.”
A pupil, who is in primary four at the school, said her teacher quickly distributed the not-for-sale textbooks to them penultimate Thursday when some government officials visited the school.
She said, “It is our class teacher that collects the fees. On September 29, some inspectors visited our school. Before they came, our teacher gave us textbooks and asked us to tell the inspectors that we did not buy them. When the inspectors left, they collected the books from us.”
The head teacher of the school, who refused to give her name, refuted the allegations when our correspondent approached her.
“We don’t collect any fee from any pupil. It is not true. We have more than enough desks in the school. No pupil pays for textbooks or any other thing. Thank you,” she said.
The woman, however, declined our correspondent’s request to visit some classrooms and make enquiries about the allegations from the pupils.
The spokesperson for the Lagos State Universal Basic Education, Mr. Seyi Akitoye, enjoined the parents to formally report to the agency and assured them that the allegations would be investigated.
He said, “Let the concerned parents petition SUBEB. The Lagos State Government is totally against the collection of any fee under any guise by either teachers or head teacher. In order to get those involved in the collection punished, advise those parents to report to us.”
Source PUNCH.        

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