Rivers CSO Calls for Severe Penalties for Principals Who Disregard Free Education Policy

Rivers CSO Calls for Severe Penalties for Principals Who Disregard Free Education Policy

The Rivers State Civil Society Organisation (CSO) Chairman, Enefa Georgewill is asking for severe penalties for school principals who disregard the State Government policy on free education. This call comes in response to the recent outcry from parents who have been forced to pay huge amounts ranging from twenty to thirty thousand naira for items like uniforms and notebooks. He said principals and head teachers should not extort parents under the guise of collecting money for uniforms when Rivers State Government promised and took credit for funding free education.

The CSO chairman Enefa Georgewill therefore stressed that stiffer punishment like compulsory retirement of the head of teachers who raise the price of school uniforms and engage in other means to extort their students and pupils should be given. Enefa Georgewill emphasized that imposing such a penalty will effectively discourage school administrators from flouting government directives in the future.

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The human rights activists however urge the government to come out clean and explain to the people how free the free education is, so that the people will know who to hold accountable, whether it is the head of school or government. She also advises the government to ensure the provision of all necessary resources, to create a conducive learning environment for pupils and students. Stating that he who comes to equity must come with clean hands, meaning, the government can not punish the head of schools if it is not providing funds for the daily smooth running of these schools.

Similarly, a Port Harcourt-based human rights activist, Charles Ugorji is raising concerns about the absence of essential learning materials in public primary and secondary schools in Rivers State despite its free education policy. Charles Ugorji in an interview with our reporters expressed disappointment that politicians do not hesitate to fund political activities and turn their back on projects that affect the ordinary people. He said that they truncated the right of the child to free and compulsory education.

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However, Mr. Ugorji urged the commissioner for education to come and tell the public how the House of Assembly included that parents should provide uniforms to their children. Stating that the law states clearly that it is only private schools that money should be paid as school fees, not the government schools. He charged the government to give the public school to the private sector if it can no longer fund it. Adding that it is a pity that they fund elections but find it difficult to fund education that gives development to the children.