Pupils, parents protest as Bauchi government reviews payment of WAEC fees
The decision by the Governor Bala Mohammed administration to review downward the number of students to benefit from the government’s payment of West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) fees in Bauchi State at the weekend elicited protest from students and parents alike.
The placard-carrying students, in their hundreds, trooped to the streets of Bauchi metropolis demanding the state government to shoulder their external examination fees. This, according to them, had been the practice.
A parent, Auwal Ahmad, who spoke with The Guardian, wondered why the current administration would take such decision without properly notifying them. “We are not aware of this. The timing is so shocking. The previous governments have been helping us in paying for WAEC. We are aware that there is no money, but the government should have notified us earlier of their inability to pay this year,” she lamented.
Also, Mrs. Nafisa Abubakar said the decision had already threatened enrolment and could shoot up the number of dropouts.
“Government needs to put some things into consideration. Some of our parents are already skeptical about formal education and I think this decision could be an alibi for them,” she added.
Speaking on the demonstration at a press conference, the Chief of Staff to the Governor and Commissioner for Education, Ladan Salihu, stressed that the current government could not continue with the “corrupt” process that plunged the state into about N612 million WAEC debt.
The official however agreed that there was a government policy in 2018 to sponsor successful candidates of mock aptitude tests.
He said: “The issue of corruption in WAEC sponsorship is one of those that could not be solved by recent governments until now.
So many candidates were enrolled for sponsorship which the last two governments found difficult to settle. Corrupt officials committed the last government to the tune of N612 million on 2019 WASSCE alone, from which it failed to settle even a kobo.
“From the inherited debt, this government has settled half and has gone into an agreement with WAEC on how the remainder will be settled fully in nine months along with the N183 million of the new 2020 registration.”
The commissioner said the government has conducted aptitude tests in all public schools, adding that of the 21,000 students who wrote the test, 12,000 were eligible besides pupils from special schools, totalling 13,011 candidates that government would sponsor in WAEC this year.
He added that the government had instructed the examination body to receive payments from parents whose wards could not benefit from the government largesse.
“It was never the policy of the government to sponsor all candidates in the state. The money to do so is simply not there, and it will not encourage hard work among students. Bauchi has remained in the 31st position in WASSCE among the 36 states of the federation. This must change. And it will not be done easily,” Salihu asserted.
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