Against government policy, Lagos school imposes a fee of N3,500 on BECE applicants
Against the policy of the Lagos State Government, the management of a public secondary school in the state imposed a compulsory levy of 3,500 Naira on candidates who participated in the 2022 Education Certificate Examination Scheme base (BECE).
The school, Randle Junior Secondary School, Pelewura Crescent, Apapa, which falls under State School District IV, is also said to have charged a fee of N2,200 for tutoring lessons.
Sources, however, confirmed that the tutoring classes never took place and that only a handful of students were paying.
PREMIUM TIMES investigations revealed that the school headed by Ola-Hamzat Olugbile as principal was illegally charging BECE fees to students as a precondition for their participation in the exam.
Some of the parents and teachers at the school this newspaper spoke to confirmed the development.
The principal, however, did not deny imposing the tax on students, but insisted that “what you have is not the correct position of things”.
Mr Ola-Hamzat and other school officials accused an unnamed individual of being behind “the leaking of secret documents to PREMIUM TIMES”.
But state education ministry spokesman Ganiu Lawal told the newspaper that only candidates from private schools pay a fee for the exam, but “it’s free for all candidates. public schools”.
Documents and other details obtained by this newspaper revealed that the school had instructed each of the teachers of the four classes of JSS 3A to 3D to ask students to pay them the money.
According to one of the students involved, who does not want to be named for fear of being punished, the N3,500 fee includes N1,000 for BECE, N1,000 for practice and N1,500 for BECE results.
According to the student, although she could not raise the 3,500 naira all at once, they were allowed to pay in instalments.
She said each of the four arms of the class has more than 70 students. Documents obtained by PREMIUM TIMES confirmed this claim.
Another student, who claimed his father was a commercial driver in Apapa, said he could only pay N2,000 and did not know when his parents would give him the remaining N1,500.
“I live with my grandmother because my parents are no more. The old woman is struggling to feed me and my siblings. So I’m even scared to tell her at home,” said another student.
The student said she had paid 1,500 Naira from her daily contributions and was only praying to be allowed to take the exam.
But since she doesn’t have a phone, our reporter has yet to confirm whether she was allowed to take the exam by the school management.
Parents confirm extortion
To avoid disclosing their children and wards, PREMIUM TIMES would not disclose the identity of the parents discussed in this report. But they all confirmed how much they paid and for what purpose.
During a short telephone conversation, one of the parents, who looked like someone in the market, first criticized our reporter, mistaking him for a school teacher.
She said one of the teachers called her to ask for payment and she promised to pay soon.
“Yes, I paid for the BECE exam, I gave my child N2000 first and then a balance of N1500,” the mother said over the phone.
Another parent, a commercial tricycle, said he had already paid 3,000 naira. “I paid for it all at once.”
Meanwhile, this newspaper has also learned that the school previously imposed a tutoring fee of N2,200 on students.
But the findings of this diary showed that the tutoring classes never took place and only a few students paid the N2,200 fee.
For those who have paid tutoring fees, a total of N5,700 has been calculated for them by the school.
Based on documents obtained by the newspaper and calculations made by the reporter, the school may have generated up to 800,000 naira.
The principal denies
When PREMIUM TIMES contacted the school, the principal, Mr. Ola-Hamzat, denied collecting money from the students and admitted that the exam was free for them.
“That’s far from the truth. The exam is free for students. Are you around, wanna see me one-on-one? There is no such thing. I would like to see you face to face. Just come to school, let’s see so you can know the truth,” he said.
But when faced with the facts of the payments, the principal said he would not speak on the phone.
Meanwhile, shortly after speaking with the principal, a man who simply identified himself as a school unionist threatened to deal with the reporter if the story ever got published.
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PREMIUM TIMES findings revealed the identity of the caller as Joseph Soremekun, who is currently the President of the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) in Surulere Local Government Area.
Sources have confirmed that he works with a local government public primary school.
He said, “I heard that you are about to publish fake news. Go ahead and do it and you will know that there is a law in the land that guides against “blasphemy”. I wish you the best. You will see the power of the union in action,” he threatened.
Principal, others meet the reporter
Meanwhile, during a recent visit to the school, the PREMIUM TIMES reporter was hired by the principal, two deputies, who were identified simply as Ms. Ogunye and Mr. Sofowora in charge of administrative and academic duties respectively .
Also present at the meeting were the Presidents of the Apapa branch of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) and the All Nigerian Confederation of Principals of Secondary Schools (ANCOPS), Messrs. Oyetakin O and Ibitoye J, respectively.
Although the headmaster insisted the documents were fake, Ms Ogunye said the school was aware of “the person” behind the matter.
According to Ms Ogunye, the alleged suspect behind the revelation, whom she declined to name, decided to tell the truth “because the person was transferred from school”.
She said: “It’s a setup. The person who sent you the document is known. He sent the document because he was transferred from this school to another school and he did not like it. If he doesn’t want to go, does that mean he has to drag everyone through the mud?
“He is looking for trouble everywhere. He’s a well-known person.”
For his part, the president of the NUT declared that he was aware of the development and that he was involved in its resolution.
He said, “This is the first time we have encountered such a situation in Apapa, but we thank God that everything has been resolved. The complainant himself apologized. There’s no way the tongue and mouth aren’t fighting but they have to work out.
“There was no need for the unnecessary allegations to implicate his colleagues. As a people there must be a dispute, but as a leader and crisis manager we must find a way to settle it, which we have do “.
No to payment – Government
Speaking in a telephone interview with PREMIUM TIMES, Mr. Lawal, Deputy Director of Press at the state Department of Education, said BECE is free for all public school students.
He noted, however, that private schools that enroll candidates for the exams have to pay. But he did not mention how much the state charges private applicants.
“Yes, I can confirm that BECE is free for our students. This is nothing new,” Mr. Lawal said.
Also, in 2019, in a clarification provided by the then permanent secretary of the ministry, Adebunmi Adekanye, the government stated no applicant to a public school should pay for the BECE or the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).
Ms Adekanye, now retired, in the report published on the official state website, warned officials to refrain from extorting money from parents in various forms, including demanding payment for practical exams .
She had threatened that anyone caught would suffer the consequences of their act.
“The gesture is to relieve parents of the burden of these fees and to create equal opportunities for all qualified students to assess the exams and prove their courage, regardless of the circumstances of their birth or the financial situation of their parents. “, Ms Adekanye said.
BECE is the main examination that qualifies Lagos State public junior high school students for admission to upper secondary schools.
The exam is written after three years of junior secondary education.
For 2022, the review began on June 8 and ended on June 15.
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