By Vincent Ujumadu, Anayo Okoli, Chidi Nkwopara & Francis Igata
Awka—Although the governors of the five South-East states of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo, always affirmed their determination to give priority to the education of youths as leaders, the situation on ground show otherwise, as students pay exorbitant school fees in the region.
Imo State is the only exemption as it had been providing free education for students since Governor Rochas Okorocha assumed office in 2011.
However, Okorocha has vowed to introduce fees for non-natives of the state as Imo people resident in other states were made to pay school fees.
He said it was foolhardy to provide free education for non-natives when it was not the same thing in other states, where Imo people reside.
A survey carried out in the five states showed that apart from Imo, which was implementing free education at all levels, the other four states were not education-friendly as they charged high fees even as some implemented discriminatory school fees among the students.
… of fees, levies
In Anambra State, where education is regarded as the biggest industry, students in public primary and secondary schools pay levies instead of school fees.
Senior secondary school students pay about N3,000 as levies, while those in the junior classes pay about N2,500 per session even as admissions into such schools attracted an initial payment of about N12,000 for each student.
Those seeking admission into any class are usually charged fees for the three terms in a session, even if they were changing schools in the third term.
The situation is, however, different for the private and missionary schools where fees range from N20,000 to N100,000 per term.
Apart from the official school fees, levies are charged through the various Parents’ Teachers Associations, PTAs, especially if there were projects to be executed in the school.
For the tertiary institution, fees at the state-owned Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University range from N100,000 for non-professional courses to N130,000 for professional courses. The fees include sundry charges such as students’ union dues, departmental fees, laboratory fees among others.
In Abia State, primary and secondary schools are also said to be free, but some schools charge illegal levies of between N1,000 and N3,000 yearly.
Fees charged at the state’s tertiary institutions are high compared to the financial capacity of the indigenes. At Abia State University, the fees are between N65,000 and N300,000, depending on the course of study. Medicine and other related courses cost much higher than the arts and social sciences.
At the state polytechnic in Aba, students are charged between N50,000 to N60,000, per semester, while those at the College of Education, Technical, pay fees ranging from N45,000 to N50,000, per semester.
In Ebonyi State, which is the most educationally backward in the geo-political zone, primary and secondary schools are also said to be free.
At the College of Education, Ikwo, new and year two students pay N35,000 with those in their third/ final year paying N20,000.
For those of the Federal University Ndufu Alike, Ikwo, new entrants pay N56,000 while the old students pay N36,000 per session.
The state government, however, charged discriminatory fees as non-natives of the state paid much higher.
Ebonyi State indigenous students pay N80,000, while non-indigenes pay N120,000 each.
There are no tuition fees in public primary and secondary schools in Enugu State. However, various levies are paid at both levels.
Primary school pupils pay an average of N1,000 for various projects initiated by the Parents’ Teachers Associations, PTAs. Even those in secondary schools pay various levies ranging from N100 to N900 per session.
Both JSS 3 and SS 3 students pay between N700 and N900 in addition to the official fees charged for their examinations.
At the Enugu State College of Education, Technical, ESCET, new students for NCE programme pay N48,000 while those undergoing degree courses pay N69,000 including acceptance fees.
Also in ESCET, Sandwich/Part-Time Degree tuition, including acceptance fee, is N80,000.
Students at the Enugu State University of Science and Technology, ESUT, pay N126,000, excluding N25,000 acceptance fee and other departmental fees. Students who choose to stay in the hostels pay an additional N40,000.
At the Institute of Management and Technology, IMT, new students pay N65,000, including acceptance fees, while hostel accommodation is N40,000.
The University of Nigeria Nsukka, UNN, which is a Federal Government-owned institution, pegged its own fees at N90,000 apart from a compulsory laptop fee of N75,000 for new students, even as old students pay N55,000 each.
Imo State Government has been operating free education programme since Governor Okorocha came on board in 2011.
He promised giving school bags, textbooks, desks, sandals and teaching aids to the pupils and their schools.
The governor took off with the programme, but events had since proved that he has slowed down or completely stopped the implementation of the policy.
Some school heads, interviewed within the week, confessed that they had since run out of instructional materials, even as they said that parents now provided books and uniforms for their wards.
South East Voice investigations showed that it was doubtful if the state government would go on with the free education policy, especially with the current economic down turn in the country.
Only recently, Okorocha told journalists that he was seriously thinking of slamming fees on non-indigenes, pointing out that it was foolhardy to give such people free education in Imo, while Imo people were forced to pay fees in other states.