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Is ANCOPSS an asset or a liability?

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Sir: Until the government, both at the federal and state levels turn a long overdue searchlight to the activities of the All Nigeria Confederation of Principals of Secondary Schools (ANCOPSS), the desire to achieve rapid growth in the education sector will continue to remain a pipedream, while the state of most public schools in the country will remain appalling. It all starts with the compulsion attached to every newly-appointed principal of public schools joining ANCOPSS by fire by force.

No sooner has anyone assumed such a duty post than ANCOPSS ironically brings its handcuffs of immobility into play. Various dues are charged and each principal in principle is expected to pay with his or her personal salary. But in practice, all the dues charged by ANCOPSS are taken directly by most principals from funds posted into schools’ accounts as running costs with connivance with those in the account departments. Therefore, ANCOPSS through its overt and covert activities sabotages the government’s intentions to have public schools run smoothly and thereby blackmail the government continually.

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By encouraging public school principals to divert funds meant for running of schools into offsetting arrays of dues charged, most schools lack basic facilities that can aid the learning and teaching process despite the fact that there are monthly allocations from the government to schools.

Another damage caused by ANCOPSS is that more often than not, it fixes most of its ceaseless congresses at a time which clashes with the school calendar. Principals are therefore encouraged to leave their schools almost every time and this affects the proper handling of their schools.

Ironically, it is doubtful if ANCOPSS has at any time through any of its congresses proffered any solution to the multifaceted problems confronting the nation’s education sector as none of the provisions of Article Three of its constitution has ever been met. The overall result of all these laxities is that for decades, the performance of public school students in external examinations has been on a steady decline.

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Statutorily, principals are supposed to teach at least six periods per week in addition to their administrative duties while the vice principals have 12 periods allocated to them under the same arrangement. But most principals and vice-principals in public schools never abide by the laid-down provisions but idle away in their offices under a flimsy excuse of administrative preoccupations thereby compounding the acute shortage of teachers confronting public schools.

The government ought to set up a powerful probe panel to visit all schools and right all the wrongs. Whoever is found culpable even if out of service should be recalled and made to face the music.

Bioye Oyejide, an educationist and public affairs analyst, lives in Lagos.

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