(By Fred Ezeh – ABUJA)
The recent decision by the federal government to ban development levy in federal government colleges otherwise called Unity Schools has created fears and apprehension particularly among staffs whose salaries and other entitlements are tied to fund realized by schools through the levy.
National President of the Parents Teachers Association of Federal Government Colleges (NAPTAFEGC) Dr. Gabriel Nnaji, who disclosed this in a telephone conversation with our correspondent on Friday, said that the affected workers have lost confidence in the system, resulting in absence of commitment to duty.
Dr. Nnaji said “the abolition of development levy in unity schools will obviously create a very big problem in the system because some colleges pay their teachers’ salaries through the levy.
“Some colleges pay their teachers’ salaries through the levy. So, there are apprehension among such workers of what would become of their employment. The most unpalatable situation is that parents are withdrawing their children from the schools because of the unaffordable high school fees,” he said.
He, however, told our correspondent that the association has directed schools to operate according to their financial strength to avoid salaries accumulation.
“It is better to release staffs whose salaries and other entitlements are tied to the development levy. But you can also retain them if you have any other means of generating funds to pay their salaries,” he said.
He also told Daily Sun that information available to the association confirmed that enrollment into the unity schools has equally dropped significantly, attributing it to the recent 300 percent increase in school fees of students.
The implication of the developments, according to him is massive jobs lost that would possibly lead to industrial crisis, with academic calender disruption as consequences. He therefore appealed to the government to have a rethink on the decision.
Recall that the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu was said to have issued a circular to Unity schools on June 1st, 2016 communicating the government decision to increase students school fees from N20, 000 to N75, 000.
The decision was however rejected by the Parents Teachers Association (PTA), resulting in disagreement with the government.
Last week, the Minister, through a statement by the Deputy Director (Press) in the Ministry of Education, Mr. Ben Goong reacted to media reports that Principals of unity schools are imposing hidden charges on students, warning such principals to desist from such act or fact the wrath of the ministry.
Meanwhile, a document containing the first term school fees for 2016/2017 academic year for students of the unity schools was equally released last week by the Director of Basic and Secondary Education, Mrs. Anne Okonkwo.
A breakdown of the figure shows that newly admitted students are expected to pay N83, 000.
Similarly, JSS2 and SS2 students are expected to pay N45,500 while the parents of JSS3 students are to pay N55,500.
However, SS1 and SS3 students are to part with N65,000 and N75,500 respectively. The document also pegged the school fees for 2nd and 3rd term for all students at N25,500. The Sun