The Ebonyi State Government says the introduction of N750 development levy in private schools is aimed at enhancing infrastructural development in the state.
Frank Onwe, the Senior Special Assistant to Governor David Umahi on Private Schools Development, stated this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Tuesday in Abakaliki.
According to Onwe, school children in private school from pre-nursery to post primary are expected to pay development levy of N250 to government each academic term.
The governor’s aide said the levy was an initiative of the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools aimed at supporting the infrastructural development efforts of government.
He said: “The N250 development levy is a token payment made to assist in the development of the state.
“The payment is predicated on the fact that government provides conducive environment where this learning takes place.
“If the environment is not conducive, learning will not take place; look at the infrastructural development going on in the state, good road network everywhere and where does government get money to do these things.
“Now, the proposal was made not by government but by the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools as a way of supporting the good work of the government.
“Government said if in your wisdom you thought it wise to assist us, we will gladly accept.
“So, it was an initiative of private proprietors themselves and government bought into it.
“So, if a child pays N250 only per term to support what government is doing why should some parents complain and have these parents complained that some private schools charge up to N120,000 and parents still pay.
“Why do parents send their children to schools where they pay as high as between N100,000 and N120,000 and not to public schools where tuition is free?
“If a parent can graciously and willingly pay N120,000 and he didn’t complain, why would such a parent worry over a token levy of N250.”
Onwe insisted that government embarked on the action in line with the recommendations of Proprietors of Private Schools and noted that government was committed to developing capacities of teachers in both public and private schools.
He also said government was not taxing education in the state, stressing that education was tuition free, adding that government only taxed profits made by the private school owners.
“Education is tuition free in Ebonyi and no one pays education tax in the state and what government taxes is the excess profits made from the business,” he added.
He said the state government charged operational fee to prospective school owners as part of statutory requirements to establish private schools in the state.
He said N1,600 clearance fee collected by government per student registering for the West African Examination Council-organised examination was from the excess charges made on candidates by private schools.
Onwe said: “WAEC approved registration fee is N16,600 but walk into any private school and ask to register your child or ward and hear how much they will tell you.
“No private school collects less than N26,000 for WAEC West African Senior School Certificate Examination registration and if government says come pay us N1,500 from the gain of N10,000, is government asking too much.”
Meanwhile, some parents have kicked against the policy and called on the government to review it.
Some parents interviewed in Abakaliki said the policy was capable of undermining current campaign against out-of-school children, insisting that more school children could drop out from school due to the policy.