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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

‘Just Dey Play’ — Group Mocks Soludo’s Free Education

 

By Izunna Okafor, Awka

A group, known as the South East APC Young Progressives Forum (Anambra State Chapter) has chid the recent declaration of tuition free education in Anambra State by Governor Chukwuma Soludo.

Recall that Governor Soludo had, on Friday, announced that education will henceforth be free for all children in primary 1-6 and JSS 1-3 in all public schools in the State, as no school child in the above-mentioned classes should pay a dime again in the course of their studies. The Governor also pegged the school fees of students in the senior secondary schools in all government-owned schools in the State to be five thousand N5000.

Reacting to the declaration, the South East APC Young Progressives, through a statement signed by its National Convener, Paschal Candle and Anambra State Coordinator, Michael Chibuzo, described the Governor’s tuition free declaration as a a deceit and jamboree.

The group, while noting that there had been tuition free education in Anambra State since the administration of former Governor Chris Ngige, also sought some clarifications from Governor Soludo regarding his declaration.

The statement read in full: “Anambra State Chapter of The South East APC Young Progressives Forum watched with dismay as the Executive Governor of Anambra State, Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo flagged off what he described as ‘free and qualitative education across all government owned nursery, primary and junior secondary school classes in Anambra State’.

“According to the governor, all fees, dues and levies running into several thousands hitherto being paid by students in these basic education classes have now been scrapped.

“We are therefore perplexed on how Governor Soludo will launch with fanfare a programme that is supposed to be existing since 2004. Let’s assume Governor Soludo met a practice on ground where students in primary 1-6 and JSS 1-3 that were not meant to pay any fees were made to pay illegal fees in violation of the UBE Act (as domesticated by Anambra State), why did it take him a year and 5 months to put a stop to it?

“Let us make it clear to Ndi Anambra: The official declaration of the purported free and qualitative education for students in nursery and basic classes (covering Primary 1 to JSS 3) and the attendant joy is not about “tuition fees” as this has long been made free by the previous administrations starting from Dr Chris Ngige down to Governor Obiano.

“Before today, and in spite of the tuition free regimes, a primary school pupil in a public school in Anambra State pays 1,500 to 3,000 naira per term depending on the school and location of the school. This long list of these illegal levies totaling about 10 items covered such dues as exam fee, portal fee, library fee, etc.

“The Anambra State Chapter of South East APC Young Progressives Forum wants to task the governor to answer the following questions:

“1. The several thousands of Naira in termly fees and levies that students in primary 1-6 and JSS 1-3 were paying before now, which purse were they entering? who authorised them?

“2. Did Anambra State access the UBE 50% marching grant from the Federal Government meant to assist states ensure basic education is free in their schools? If yes, why did the state government still allow students to be exploited and fleeced?

“3. Now that you have abolished all fees, we want to know if you have also stopped PTA levies in all public primary and junior secondary schools? This is another area where corruption thrives in Public Schools.

“4. Has the APGA-led Government in Anambra been providing students in Anambra State in the basic education category textbooks in the 4 and 5 of the core subject areas of primary and junior secondary schools respectively mandated by the UBEC as part of what UBE grants to states covers?

“This is crucial because education is not just about going to school but having instructional materials to learn with. We are aware that most primary schools and many secondary schools in Anambra lack decent school libraries without adequate textbooks for the students to use. We therefore ask Governor Soludo to give specific answers to the SCOPE of the free basic education he reintroduced. This is for the sake of accountability and transparency.

“We are also constrained to highlight the very poor state of our public schools across Anambra State. Anambra public primary and secondary schools are fast becoming antiquities with no concerted efforts by the state government to carry out total overhaul of structures in our schools to meet modern standards.

“We see the kind of model schools poorer states like Borno, Gombe, etc are building for their students and wonder why it seems a taboo to build modern, aesthetic schools in Anambra State. It simply means there is zero political will to build such.

“The South East APC Young Progressives Forum also wants to use this opportunity to ask Governor Chukwuma Soludo why the state government is not contemplating creating more schools in view of the ever expanding population across the state and the need for more standard public schools to cater for the qualitative education needs of the growing population in many cities, towns and villages. For the past 18 years, no single new public secondary or primary school have been built by the APGA-led government in Anambra State. This is very unfortunate and must be addressed.

“In conclusion, we want to appeal to the good people Anambra State and civil society organisations to step up vigilance and demand for basic accountability and transparency from the Anambra State government and Governor Charles Soludo especially on this issue of free education declaration.”

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