How principals, school owners extort parents, WASCE candidates

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Many parents and candidates for the 2015 School Certificate examinations are paying exorbitant fees. There are indications that the May/June edition of the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) and the forthcoming June/July Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) have become a goldmine to principals and school owners in various states. They are using both examinations to make huge cash.

Investigations by our correspondent revealed that the principals and school proprietors cashed in on the school exams to milk candidates and their parents by charging fees far above what is stipulated by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) and the National Examinations Council (NECO). And while this development was taking place, officials of various states Ministries of Education pretended it was not happening.

Daily Sun gathered that schools across the country were charging various fees based on the status of the students. For instance, external students were made to pay more than the regular students and even compelled to buy school uniforms, pay development levies and administrative charges.

Our correspondent learnt that the practice was taking place with the full knowledge of some state governments’ ministries of education officials who turned a blind eye to the illegality even when parents and concerned stakeholders had drawn their attention to it.

The role of WAEC and NECO officials in the exercise is unclear to ascertain, but the exam bodies are being blamed for refusing to act when they discovered that the bulk of the candidates writing the school exams were external candidates, a development which both bodies forbid.

Our investigation further revealed that before the external candidates were registered, they were given a long list of items they were expected to pay for. Thereafter, they are expected to sit for the exams in the schools’ uniform to create the impression that they are all regular candidates.

According to WAEC Nigeria’s Head of National Office (HNO), Mr. Charles Eguridu, the council charges N11, 500 for the school exam whereas a senior official of NECO said the body charges N11,350 for the same examination.

But a two-month investigation by our correspondent revealed that some principals and proprietors of various schools saw the WAEC and NECO exams as opportunities to make quick cash by charging excess exam fees, thereby forcing both the regular and external candidates to pay through the nose.

The illegal fees, it was further learnt, vary from state to state. In Lagos, for instance, candidates who registered as external candidates paid as much as N70,000 while regular students paid between N25.000 and N40,000, depending on whether they were arts or science students.

Some schools in Ikotun, a suburb of Lagos, compelled their final year students to pay N77,000, inclusive of N41,500 school fees. The rest N35,500, they said was WAEC fee. In some schools in Oshodi, external candidates paid N52, 000 just as regular students in Surulere paid N30, 000. Candidates for the same examination at Abaranje, also in Lagos, paid N27, 000 whereas external candidates at Ipaja were compelled to pay N35, 000, aside sundry charges.

In Ogun State, private schools took advantage of numerous external candidates seeking to re-sit their WASSCE and collected from their candidates’ fees far above what both WAEC and NECO stipulate. In Abeokuta, Sagamu and Ifo, the candidates paid between N32, 000 and N40, 000 while regular students paid N24, 000.

Investigation further revealed that some private schools in Owerri, Imo State that registered external candidates for the May/June WASSCE collected N32, 000. An official of a missionary college located at Onuimo Local Government Area of the state, at recent event, was heard reminding the candidates and their parents that the exams fees had been pegged at N24,500.

Private schools in Anambra State, it was gathered, collected between N21, 500 and N30, 000 from parents and candidates. Majority of the institutions are owned by religious groups. In Awka and Onitsha, the story is not different, as the exam fees collected by the schools ranged between N35, 000 and N40, 000.

In Port Harcourt, Rivers State, regular students paid N23, 000 as examination fees while external ones coughed out N60, 000. In Delta State, private institutions made brisk business as they collected between N65, 000 and N70, 000 from the candidates while regular final year students paid N35, 000. The story is the same in Edo State where the candidates paid between N25, 000 and N40, 000 depending on the students’ status.

It was learnt that the reason why officials of various states’ ministries of education refused to act on this exploitative fees being collected was because most schools gave returns to them. Besides, the proprietors used the excess money to pay huge taxes to the state government, which sees the trend as a source of revenue.

Majority of the school owners, it was further learnt, used the excess fees they collect to ‘settle’ exam supervisors, thus paving the way for numerous exam frauds. They did that to ensure that their students came out in flying colours.

Against this backdrop, an educationist, Chief Laid Oluwaseun, wants the government, through the Ministry of Education, WAEC and NECO to monitor schools during examination registration, insisting that those found wanting should be dealt with. He stressed that such practice was the source of examination malpractice. He regretted that it was unfortunate that students passed out with good grades yet were unable to defend their results.

Chief Oluwaseun advised parents to ensure that their wards went through the normal process of registering for May/June or SSCE in private schools, suggesting that those who were not qualified should register for the November/ December private candidate exam. He said: “The sharp practice is a major source of exam fraud. State ministries of education must act fast to check this ugly trend.”

A senior official of NECO acknowledged the trend. But he noted: “It is unfortunate that most parents see the schools as special centres where all manner of things happen inside the exam halls. Our June/July SSCE is a school-based examination but schools present some of these candidates as internal candidates. Our examination fee remains N11,350 but some schools, especially the private ones, see this as an avenue to rake in more money. The states ministries of education should help tackle this anomaly; they should not pretend that they are not aware that it is happening.”

When confronted with the issue, WAEC’s HNO in Nigeria, Mr. Eguridu, emphatically stated that the council examinations fee still stood at N11,500. He regretted that such development was taking place with the full knowledge of various states ministries of education officials.

Eguridu described the trend as a big scandal, more so as some state governments were using it to make money by taxing the schools. His claim was corroborated by the Registrar of the council, Dr. Iyi Uwadiae.

(Culled from news online)




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