Rivers state governor, Nyesom Wike, has made a major policy shift that averted a big clash or face-off in the state over the order to shut down 1866 private schools declared as unregistered.
Rivers State has over 5,000 private schools from pre-nursery to secondary schools. A registration and audit exercise began in January 2017 before 1,866 schools were found culpable.
Threat to shut down the schools began in January 2017 when the governor summoned a meeting of all private schools in the state in the Government House.
In April, the governor ordered a shut down, but many groups pressed for review, a plea the governor stood his ground.
He reaffirmed his stand in August 2017 and this sent fears down the spines of the affected schools and the over 20,000 academic and non-academic staff working there.
A circular issued on August 16, 2017; however seems to offer soft landing to the affected schools. The circular was signed by the permanent secretary, Ministry of Education, Dagogo Adonye Hart.
It gave the affected schools a chance to pay between N100,000 and N200,000 termed application fees for categories ranging from pre-nursery, nursery, primary, secondary, upgrading of Junior Secondary and Senior Secondary school (JSS, SSS) at N50,000 each category.
The deadline was given as September 1, 2017, which incidentally became a public holiday. This led to a flurry of activities as the affected schools rushed to pay in the amounts to banks on August 31, 2017, being the last working day before the deadline.
Mr Hart said the governor graciously gave a second opportunity for unapproved private schools in the state to regularsise their status before the new academic session begins in September.
“Any school that fails to take advantage of this opportunity will be shut down as earlier directed by His Excellency. The proprietors are therefore, advised to visit the Quality Assurance Department of the Ministry of Education for regularisation of their schools,” he said.
Fees structure was also announced thus: Upgrade fee N100,000; Approval fee for Nursery N150,000; for Primary N200,000; and Secondary N300,000 while annual renewal is N100,000 flat.
Parents and guardians were warned not to risk their wards in unapproved schools but to cross check with the Quality Assurance Department.