The Ogun State Government has said that it has not authorized any principal to sell uniforms to new or old students in all public schools in the State.
Speaking on a Radio programme, Sanlaarin, in Abeokuta on Monday, Chief Press Secretary, Kunle Somorin said “it is extortionate to use such underhand tactic to undermine the free education programme of the Prince Dapo Abiodun administration.
He also advised parents and guardians whose children or ward to challenge such move by reporting erring Principals to the zonal offices of the Ministry of Education.
Students in Ogun State resumed a new academic session yesterday.
Mr. Somorin while assuring the people of the government’s resolve to make education free reminded the people that running cost has been re-introduced to schools for headteachers and principals to meet running cost on a day-to-day basis.
Mr. Somorin had received a call on the live phone-in programme when a parent complained about the defiant attitude of a school principal within Abeokuta metropolis.
The caller had phone to report a particular school in the state that was turning pupils back on account of not buying uniforms from the school.
Pleas by parents and guardians whose children and wards were about to commence junior secondary education to only buy their school uniforms at exorbitant prices of N4,000, as against the street value of N1,500 were to no avail until the intervention.
However, callers later confirmed that few minutes after the Chief Press Secretary’s firm stance that government would not fold its arms and allow its free education policy dragged into the mud by any group or individual, the school principal rescinded her decision.
“She is now allowing the pupils into the school premises to join other students in their various classrooms”, the caller said.
“When I get back to the office, I will take it up. I will make sure this issue gets to the appropriate quarter. This is not from us. it is just a decision of someone who does not have the authority to do so. I will involve the Permanent Secretary on the issue. In Ogun, we frown at extortion and there’s no going back of free universal basic education in Ogun State,” Somorin insisted.
He, however, commended the school principal for listening to the voice of reason by allowing the pupils to get into their classes.
He added that other school principals who are in the habit of “forcing” parents to buy their wards school uniforms from the school authorities at exorbitant rates as against what obtains in the market to know that such acts will not go unpunished under this administration.
Somorin also assured parents that the state government will do all in its power to ensure that textbooks approved for use during academic sessions are also made available in the book stores at affordable prices across the state, so as to put a stop to the extortion of parents by school proprietors who extort them.
It should be recalled that the Ogun state governor at a recent stakeholders forum for teachers in the state suspended the payment of a N3,700 levy imposed on parents by the Parents Teachers Association, after the levy was approved by the immediate past government in the state.
“I am sure that everybody knows that I did not introduce it. The N3,700 predates this administration and my understanding is that the previous government approved it because it was a proposal that was accepted by the Parents Teachers Association. The truth is that, as acceptable as it may have been, it negates the principle of free education,” he said.
Abiodun also noted that he had told his team to look at the issue, adding that the first step at ensuring that schools have the financial strength to run their day to day activities. He subsequently suspended payment of the levy.
In a related development, Mr Somorin said the issues revolving around Model School students in Akinale via Abeokuta has been resolved.
“All students have been asked to report and the session has started seamlessly.
“As I speak, no bonafide student has been turned back. All functional Model School will continue while those underutilised will be put into better uses either as TechHub, like the one in Kobape or used to train artisans and craftsmen and women as Vocational and Technical Colleges”, Somorin enthused