By Kolawole Olayinka, Abeokuta
As schools in Ogun State resume for another academic calendar this week, Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun has ordered the suspension of the three thousand, seven hundred naira (N3,700) education levy inherited from the previous administration.
The Governor, who decried the public outcry generated by the fee, said his administration did not introduce it as it was a proposal by Parents Teachers Association accepted and implemented by the previous administration.
Prince Abiodun, who made this known at one-day Stakeholders Forum with the theme, “Re-positioning Education for Outstanding Performance”, held at the June 12 Cultural Center, Kuto, Abeokuta, said the fee, which was an initiative of the Parents Teachers Association, was approved under the last administration in the state.
He said he was suspending it to make good his promise of free, universal and qualitative education in public primary and secondary schools in the state.
“I have been criticised in the media about the N3,700 PTA fee. I did not introduce the fee. It was proposed by the PTA and accepted by the previous administration. The fee negates the free education policy of this administration. It is like payment through the back-door.
“I hereby suspend the payment in all our schools. We will also look into the issue of Principal and Headmasters-General,” he assured.
Governor Abiodun, who described the condition of schools in the state as pathetic, said to ensure that public schools have the financial strength to run their day-to-day activities, he announced the restoration of the running cost for all primary school head teachers and principals of secondary schools.
While looking at the items on the list of what necessitated the introduction of the levy, Governor Abiodun said he had told his team to critically look at insurance, caps, inter house sport wears and some other things.
“I have told them to go and look at and how we can make it work without having to charge anybody, because we promised we are going to offer free education,”he said.
He said his administration has embarked on the rehabilitation of 236 primary and secondary Schools in the State, just as some of the non-functional model schools would be converted to TechHUB, technical and vocational centres.
He assured the stakeholders that his administration placed high premium on education. The Governor said emphasis would be on training and retraining of teachers to enable them meet new challenges of developments in the teaching profession.
The governor while appreciating the students that represented the state at the 2019 Science Teachers Association of Nigeria, Competition, Spelling Bee National quiz and Project competition, and the Mathematical Association of Nigeria competition, said that the state government would offer the students access to the states tech hub, give a laptop computer and a cash donation to each of the students.
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Mr. Olu-Ola Aikulola, thanked the governor for the positive touch currently being experienced in the educational sector of the state, especially on the release of outstanding promotion for teachers. He said the pupils are reciprocating by winning trophies and accolades at competitions at National and international levels.
He informed the governor that the state participated in the 2019 Science Teachers Association of Nigeria, Competition held in Kano State, Spelling Bee National quiz and Project competition, held in Akwa-Ibom and the Mathematical Association of Nigeria competition in Rivers State, adding that the states representatives in the competitions did the state proud.
Earlier in her remarks, the Special Adviser, Primary, Secondary and Technical Education, Mrs. Ronke Soyombo, noted that education was the only legacy that could be given to the young generation, adding that raising the bar of education in the state was a major priority of the state government.