By Tony Edike
ENUGUâ€”THE Enugu State Government says it has identified about 841 illegal private schools, which have been ordered to closeÂ down in different parts of the state as part of efforts to improve the standard of education in the state.
The State Commissioner of Education, Dr. Festus Uzor, who made this known, while addressing newsmen on the stateâ€™s 2010 budgetÂ in Enugu yesterday, said that three Magistrate Courts had been set up to prosecute proprietors of the affected schools, adding that 27 of them were already being prosecuted.
He, however, said that 200 of such schools found to have met the required standard but failed to register and obtain governmentâ€™s approval for their operations were being considered for exemption, provided they pay all relevant fees payable by private school owners.
According to him, while the defaulting proprietors of Nursery, Primary and Secondary Schools were being arraigned in courts established within the three senatorial zones of the state, a group of proprietors has jointly dragged the state government to court, challenging the closure of their schools.
Uzor, vowed that the government would not relent in its efforts to ensure that unapproved private schools operating in the state were eliminated.
On the five months salary arrears owed academic and non-academic staff of Enugu State University of Science and Technology, ESUT, the Education Commissioner said thatÂ the management of the institution was already discussing with the government to seek ways of liquidating the debt estimated at over N600 million.
He disclosed that the government had received a N435 million bailout requested by ESUT management to enable it settle at least three months arrears of salary while efforts were on to clear the remaining arrears through funds realisedÂ from school fees.
Uzor said that both the management and students of ESUT had already agreed on a new school fee aimed at improving the institutionâ€™s revenue in order to pay the workers promptly and ensure uninterrupted academic activities.