— No Free Education In Imo State, says ANCOPPS…
By Barr. Ekene Bob-Ekechukwu
Yesterday, being Tuesday September 10, 2019, the Honourable Commissioner for Education, Prof. (Noble Lady) Viola Adaku Onwuliri, recieved the Executive Officers of All Nigeria Conferederation of Principals of Public Schools (ANCOPPS), IMO State Branch at the Ministry of Education.
In his opening address, the State Chairman of ANCOPPS Mr. Manume Baanah, thanked Prof. Onwuliri for accepting to serve the State in this capacity. He said that members of the Association rejoiced at the news of her appointment, which he described as “apt, not just as a Professor, but also a former Minister of State for Education”. He further referred to her appointment as “putting the right person in the right place”.
However, Mr. Baanah informed the Commissioner about the challenges Principals were facing, which has affected the smooth running of schools in the State. Some of those challenges, according to him, includes the failure of the immediate past administration of Rochas Okorocha to give Principals funds to run the schools. Stressing that lack of such funds has greatly undermined the development of Education in State schools.
He also informed the Commissioner that since last year, the West African Examination Council (WAEC) had commenced the registration of SS 1 students, who are expected to submit their Continuous Assessment Scores and other data till the finally register for the West African Senior School Certificate of Education (WASSCE) Examination in SS 3. He further said that ANCOPPS coordinated the last registration exercise and sought for permission for the Association to commence this year’s registration.
On the issue of Free Education, the State ANCOPPS helmsman emphatically stated that there was no free education in the State. His reasons being that the past administration didn’t fund the Free Education programme. He opined that the purported free education programme which failed to provide, more classroom blocks, school uniforms, feeding, books, healthcare and even payment for registration of WASSCE Examinations for students, is not free education indeed. Stressing that free education implies that everything about education should be free and not just merely the absence of tuition fees.
He concluded by saying that the kind of free education operated by Okorocha’s government, caused more harm than good to the system. He pleaded with Gov. Emeka Ihedioha not to continue with that type of free education.
Responding, the Honourable Commissioner thanked the delegation for paying the Ministry a visit. She informed them that ANCOPPS is a key player in the education sector, particularly in the Rebuild Imo Agenda of propagating and promoting the use of Igbo Language in State Schools. She said she has directed Principals to create more period for the teaching of Igbo Language, to ensure that the people do not go extinct with their language. Warning that any any school that penalizes students for speaking vernacular shall be closed down.
According to her, the government will soon organize Igbo Language competition and give incentives to schools who promote the regular use of Igbo Language. However, she enjoined ANCOPPS to ensure discipline and punctuality in schools, as it is the bedrock of the new Imo the government is about to rebuild. She warned again, that any Principal who can’t enforce discipline in his/her school, shall be sanctioned.
On the issue of running cost, the Commissioner promised that government will look in to the matter to ensure that it is adequately taken care of, as soon as practicable. She also said that the registration of SS 1 students with WAEC, will be done according to the provisions of relevant laws. In the same vein, she warned against the collection of illegal levies by Principals and advised ANCOPPS to ensure that such vices are eradicated from the system. Consequently, she provided an SMS Hotline 09072002947 and a Twitter Handle @imoeducation for public complaints over such vices.
Finally, she informed them that government will soon commence the employment of new teachers and the reposting of old ones to areas where the number of teachers is inadequate. However, she warned that teachers who fail to report to their new postings shall be summarily dismissed.