© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
FG plans to introduce compulsory N1500 devpt levy to public schools
IF resolutions reached at the just concluded National Council on Education (NCE) meeting held in Abuja are anything to rely on, the Federal Government may soon introduce a compulsory development levy to all public primary and secondary schools in the country, The ICIR can report.
The Council had approved in the communique to be issued at the end of the meeting that “a compulsory annual development levy of N500 and N1000 be paid by primary pupils and secondary students into a dedicated development levy account.”
At the closing of the meeting on Thursday which was meant to ratify and adopt the communique, a delegate observed that the introduction of such levy would negate the concept of free and compulsory basic education which is already in practice in the country.
But in his response, Minister of State for Education, Anthony Anwukah, who presided over the meeting, noted that though NCE was the highest policy making body in the education sector, its decisions would still pass through the National Assembly for final ratification.
He explained that the government was looking for ways to find a lasting solution to the challenge of funding facing the education sector, and urged delegates to allow the recommendation to pass through the National Assembly.
“My understanding is that the NCE, the highest policy making body in education has recommended it, if it goes through the mace and there is any hiccup along the line it can be dropped. Laws are made for human beings and can be amended.
“The UBEC Act is subject to amendment and it can be amended, and accommodate this part. We are trying to find a solution to the funding problem in the education. Let us not because of certain considerations or fears … let us pass through and see how it goes,” Anwukah said.
The Minister also emphasized in his closing remarks the need for the government to explore additional taxation to be able end the endless cry of lack of funding for education.
But in his submission, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Sunny Echono, who also noted that parents should take responsibility to partly fund education, urged the Council to expunge the approved development levy from the communique.
This was ratified and the section was expunged, while an amended communique without the development levy was adopted and finally released.
There are, however, fears that the Federal Government may bring it back through the back door since it has emphasized the need for collaboration among all stakeholders, including parents to find a lasting solution to the problem of funding education.
Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, on Wednesday at the opening of the meeting said lack of funding may not let the country achieve 2030 Education Agenda urging stakeholders in the education sector to collaborate and support the government to fund education.
Budgetary allocations to the education sector have dropped since 2014 from N495.2billion to N455.41billion in 2017 and this has given rise to calls from bodies like Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to Federal Government to increase funding to the sector.
In the 2017 budget, Federal Ministry of Education and its agencies and parastatals were able to utilize N31.6billion of their capital budget out of the total N33.4billion released leaving a balance of N1.8billion.