There was an uproar on Tuesday at Tricia Academy Nursery and Primary School, Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital, as parents protested against the management of the school for barring their wards from writing exams over failure to pay graduation levy.
The parents, who spoke to journalists at the school, over what they described as an unwholesome extortion being perpetrated by the school management, wondered why the management should make graduation fee compulsory for both graduating and non-graduating pupils.
They further listed poor hygiene practice by the caregivers, lack of portable water and electricity within the school environment, imposition of obnoxious levies on parents, inability of the school management to cooperate with parents, among others as some of the issues in contention.
The parents vowed to withdraw their children from the school, and ensure justice was done concerning the wrongs meted on their children.
One of the messages allegedly sent to the parents by the school read, “Good afternoon our esteemed parents. The school management wishes to appreciate you for your support to our children. Please, be informed that graduation levy payment is mandatory for both graduating and non-graduating classes and any child that fails to pay both the graduation and examination levy will not write the promotion examination that is coming in two weeks time. Please try and pay before the exam starts. Thanks.”
One of the parents, Mr. MacDonald Oti, who spoke to journalists, expressed displeasure over the refusal of the school management to allow his child to write his promotion exams.
“I have three kids here. We got certain notifications after we had paid school fees. Like I said before, I ensured that whatever book that was recommended was bought and every other levy paid. We paid school fees and we were also told to pay exam levy; and they also sent us messages making the payment of graduation fee compulsory, for both graduating and non-graduating pulpils which we saw as abnormal.
“This is 21st century where the likes of BESDA and UNICEF are working in collaboration to ensure no child is sent out of school. So, it came to me as a rude shock that a private school, people that should know better, are going out of their way with such kind of impunity and imposition.
“They threatened parents that any child who failed to pay will not be allowed to write exams. And yesterday, it happened. I came here and saw my kid. All the kids who are unable to pay were all packed in the same room crying, for so many hours and they were there till the end of the day. It’s wrong and highly condemnable and we will not accept it as parents.
“The management should have called for a meeting to discuss this before imposing the levy on the parents, but they didn’t. They just went out of their way and sent text messages, and so many parents didn’t even get the notification and before they could know about it, their wards had been refused access to exam hall. The parents are not happy. We are dissatisfied with the way they are running this school.”
Another parent, Mr Joseph Uche Odo, explained, “You can feel the impulse of the parents around here. Every parent is aggrieved over this imposition of levies which was not discuss in any parents’ forum and the most annoying accept of it is that the pulpils who didn’t pay the so-called levy were confined in an apartment where the they cried all through the day till the time their parents came to pick them only to discover their wards were denied exams after they paid all the statutory fees and exam fees.
“As it stands now, I cannot take it, because a school that taught a child from the beginning to the end of the term has the responsibility to evaluate that child.”
Reacting, the Headmaster of the school, Mr. Alphonsus Igwe, explained that all the sundry issues raised by the parents were been addressed.
According to him, those children who couldn’t write their examination on Monday were going to write today.
“We have called for an emergency meeting as no stone will be left unturned in order to resolve these differences. I will also suggest that you talk with the proprietress on this matter.”