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Principals Conference harps on post-COVID-19 challenges

A governmental and non-profit organisation, the African Principals Conference Initiative (APCI), with focus on the promotion of quality learning and effective schools’ development in Africa, has expressed worry that the post COVID-19 challenges portend major crisis for stakeholders in the education sector; given the expected reduction in government revenue, currency devaluation, and increased prices of products and services.
This is as the Conference pledged its commitment to periodically and continually draw the attention of stakeholders, especially the government and school operators to the myriad of unsavoury practices in the education sector with a view to bringing sanity into the school system.
In a statement by the Acting Director-General of APCI, Mr. Ayodele Joseph on a seminar by the African Principals Conference Advisory Board (Services), entitled: “Fraud and Rip off in the Education Sector,” the Conference harped on the need for regulatory agencies in the sector to put in place sufficient stimulus package for school owners at this period of Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
In its report for education stakeholders, the Advisory Board also highlighted on how school heads could ensure that their services are well-positioned for needed funding by parents and guardians.
The report said: “Globally, every nation will be fixated on stabilising their domestic economies; offering little or no help to other countries. Hence, every interested party in the Nigeria education system must safeguard and protect investors in the education system.
“In the new world order, national patriotism is essentially on patronising locally-made products and services. And, all hands must be on deck to eliminate fraud and continual rip-off in the Nigeria education sector. We must encourage edupreneurs to upgrade their school plans and services.”
According to the report, the practice of rip off in the nation’s education sector, which presents itself in a plethora of ways, includes but not limited to, the question of who pays for cost-saving initiatives; asking stakeholders to pay for your cost-saving initiatives.
It, however, pointed out that asking people to pay for services as schools migrate from paperwork to e-management will be a big fraud because there is no added value as they have only eliminated handling of papers.
This, the Conference includes moving from paper report card system to e-report card, upgrading of the library to e-library, and manual attendance to biometric attendance system, among others.
Again, the report further argued if they would ask parents to pay for third-term now or to pay for COVID-19 holiday classes?
“Asking parents to pay for e-learning services is a fraud. However, they can pay separately for the COVID-19 holiday classes. The current compulsory holiday was never envisaged in the school calendar and there is a service costs component for schools. For a normal academic session, schools are expected to enhance students learning through e-learning activities,” the Conference added.
The APCI Advisory Board in its three-point recommendations, noted that engagement of government agencies at every level by registered associations to stop the introduction of new levies and fees unless for value-added and innovative services.
The Board also recommended that regulatory agencies should explore a reduction in levies in order to encourage unregistered schools to register, and since the NAFDAC and CAC have stimulus registration packages for companies, schools should benefit from similar packages. “APCI is working on data-driven recommendation for government to give grants to private schools in cities and communities where there is lack of public schools.

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