Dr Chima (center) flanked by other education officials during the briefing

Ebonyi state government has debunked the claim that Ebonyians are leaving the state to neighbouring states for West African Examinations Council (WAEC) and National Examinations Council (NECO) registration because of levies.

The Commissioner for Education, Dr. Onyebuchi Chima, described the claim as total fabrication, adding that there are no levies other than the approved government levies that are been collected in both Public and Private schools.

He said this on Friday at his office while briefing journalists.
Dr. Chima disclosed that the approved levy for West African Examinations Council registration in Ebonyi State is N16, 600, while registration for National Examinations Council is N12, 000.

He said anything above these are not coming from the state government, stating that: “For any particular levy to be collected there must be Exco clearance. If you go round the south east you will see that there is no other state lower than ours.

“We have approved that WAEC is N16, 600, that is Exco approval on the 12th of December 2019. We have also agreed of course, NECO is always lower that WAEC, so there is no way NECO can be anything higher than WAEC, so last year, we approved N12, 000 for NECO registration, it shouldn’t be anything higher than that and if it is, it can’t be more than N500 because of new taxes that NECO brought up.

“This is the only state where the commissioner for Education cannot unilaterally ask for a particular payment or levies to be collected without exco clearance. That is how it is. And no commissioner will do it in any other ministry without exco clearance. We have collective responsibility type of go governance.

“We have people that invest as private investors in education. They are partnering with government to help us in attaining quality education.

“So for private partners, I.e. Private School proprietors, we monitor what they do, we provide them the enabling environment, security and otherwise and reserve the right of their operation. We can close or stop them from operation if they go contrary to the policy and vision and mission of the state”.

“So the idea that levies are now being charged and that’s why Ebonyians are running to sister states, I want to debunk it with every strength in me, that it is not true. Ebonyians and people from other states are excited to come to Ebonyi state because we are re-engineering education, we are bring innovative forms of education that you cannot find in any of our sister states.

“Ebonyi still remains the safest state to educate your child in, and that’s why we are calling on private investors on education to come in. This is the place where the teachers are ready to work despite all the challenges.

“No Ebonyi child is going to any other state because it has never been conducive. “We run together as people of the same destiny to form this state called Ebonyi, nothing has happened here either in education or in any other way that Ebonyians are running to any state, instead, we are more united because, His Excellency, Engr. David Nweze Umahi, is making us proud, and we have the most conducive environment ever imagined by any Igbo person that we will have in Ebonyi state for education.

“No Ebonyi child is running away to other states for the sake of registering NECO or WAEC, that is a total fabrication that as a Commissioner of Education, I am strongly debunking it and there are no levies paid other than the approved levies that are being collected in any of our schools both private and public.

“Both in our University, all fees, all levies are approved and agreed to and with strong recognition of the people we are, where we started and where we are going and the challenges we have.

“Ebonyi, despite receiving the least amount of federal allocation, we are no. 1 in performance and all ramifications.

“So as the commissioner for Education, let me reiterate that education is at the fore front of Governor Umahi’s policy benchmark, and I am opportune to be here today” he stated.

Asked why pupils are taxed N250 each in private schools, which has been coined as infant tax by parents, Dr. Chima explained that there is nothing like infant tax or levies, rather it is called developmental levy, adding that the levy is not peculiar to Ebonyi but that it is also paid in other states.

He said those in the public schools pay N500 as developmental levies, not minding that their counterparts in private schools pay N200.

The commissioner hinted that those taxed are not the pupils, but the schools, stressing that it’s the proprietors that should pay N200 from the fees they collect from the children.

He noted that the proprietors instead of paying the N200, push it back to the children to be paying it.
“We didn’t tax the children per se I have explained this to NAPPS so that they could also take the explanation downwards.

“But there is one thing we have to get right, no matter how we spin it, the system must have a way to sustain itself, otherwise it will crash. Ebonyi education system must have a self sustenance mechanism otherwise, it will crash, and the self sustenance mechanism are these approved levies, that are approved in total consideration of the people we are and our economic background.

“Now that it is approved, it is to be paid by the proprietors of schools from the fees collectible from the children. Some of them collect fees of N10, 000 to N50, 000. So the fees they collect per child of Ebonyi state is what we are asking N250 from.

“The state owns that child, we provide security, we do access road, electricity, and if your child is anyhow abused, or not being provided the quality of education you have gone for, where do you run to, government.
“So when you pay that fee, to guarantee your child being in that school, to provide them that enabling environment upon which they provide your child that education you sought for, give government N250. 00 out of that fee.

“But what they did is instead of the proprietors doing exactly that, they decided to charge it independently. I’m putting it straight to you that the N250 is to be from the fees paid by each child, it is up to them to do that and it is up to you as parents to make them do that” he added.

Dr. Chima also made it crystal clear that the state doesn’t use education as a means of IGR.

Speaking at the briefing, the SSA to the Governor on Private Schools Development, Hon. Nweke Frank Onwe, maintained that education is not taxed in Ebonyi state, adding that is has remained free.

He corroborated with the commissioners earlier statement that no Ebonyi child is leaving the state to register for WAEC or NECO in neighbouring states, even as he noted that others are coming into the state for education because it is cheaper in Ebonyi compared to other neighbouring states.

He said that the state government is also interested in the quality of education children obtain in private schools.

“My designation is private schools development it is not private schools IGR collection.

“The governor is interested in the quality of education they give to our children in private schools, the curriculum content, the teachers, environment and infrastructure…

“He is interested to make sure that whatever you have in public schools has a corresponding presence in the private schools and government is not taxing education,” he stated.

On collection of N250,00 per child in private schools, frank maintained there is nothing like infant tax in Ebonyi, he reiterated that the developmental levy is paid even at the university level, adding that the levy is from the school fees proprietors charge per child.

“Parents pay fees of N50, 000 to N100,000 and they are not complaining, but government is saying from that fees collected, that proprietors should give us N250, 00 and you are now complaining.

” I do not think the government is asking for much. And don’t forget, some people do not charge that N250.00 per se. There are schools who tell parents the developmental levy is N3, 000 or N5, 000, do they remit that amount to the government? No! it’s like we are in a capitalist state, any little opportunity people want to capitalize and exploit the situation and now give a bad name to the government, it is not correct,” he retorted.

He also addressed the issue of government collecting N1,500 from those registering WAEC in private schools.

Onwe pointed out that government approved fee for WAEC is N16, 600 but that private schools are collecting not less than N30, 000 and from that N30, 000, government is also demanding that N1,500 be remitted by the school, not the students that have already paid for the WAEC.

On his part, the Chairman, National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools, Ebonyi State, Elder Kingsley Chimereze Igboke, said the government has been good to them, adding that since he came on board, the association has been running the system with the government.

He further noted that the roads leading to some of their schools have been tarred by the state government, adding that if the state was not friendly with private schools, that such roads would have been avoided.

“We are fully in support of this government based on these developments,” he stated,
He added that NAPPS will stand to challenge anybody or group that says that the governor is not doing well, stating that in 2016 when the new IGR schedule was released, they paid a courtesy call to the governor and he set up a committee that looked into the matter and the whole thing as it concerns them was resolved and they have been running smoothly since then till now.

He suggested that a committee should be set up to look into the allegations made by different people as regards to payment of levies not approved by government and registering of WAEC and NECO outside the state by Ebonyians.

He said private schools are not in opposite direction with the state government.

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