Governor Ben Ayade’s Cross River government and parents have slammed public schools in Calabar for forcing schoolchildren to pay illegal fees.
According to the state government, education in public primary schools is free.
Reacting to complaints by parents that schoolchildren were sent home for not paying some fees, Castro Ezama, Special Adviser to the Governor on Education, said such payments were illegal.
The public schools had lamented the state government’s inability to provide chalks, and other necessities forced them to collect fees.
This was in spite state government’s declaration that primary education in public schools was free and compulsory.
“The headteachers may tell you that they collect these monies and send them to zonal heads and also for the provision of some necessities like registers and diaries. These things are provided by the government on demand,” disclosed Mr Ezama. “Parents leave their kids in schools and go to work and their businesses, and you are sending them back home to go and do what?”
He added, “We cannot be sending children home from schools when we are still struggling to reduce the number of out-of-school children in the state occasioned by communal clashes.”
Emmanuel Okon, a parent, disclosed that public schools in Calabar charged different extra fees.
Another parent, Joseph Bassey, stated, “My son attends State Housing Primary School, Calabar, and on the day of enrolment, I asked the administrator why they collect school fees when it is free.’’