Niger Government has suspended payment of West African Examination Council (WAEC) fees for non-indigenes in the state because students from neighbouring states were taking advantage of the policy.
The Commissioner of Education, Hajiya Fatima Madugu, who gave the reason at a news briefing in Minna on Monday, said the suspension would be reversed once the state government straightened its records on the payment of WAEC fees for its indigenes.
“We swung into action to try and identify the real students who are residents of Niger and those who are being smuggled into the state, just for the purpose of the examinations.
“We are trying to straighten our records and by the time we straighten our records, we are going to reverse that decision,” she said.
The commissioner said the state recorded an astronomical increase in the fees government was paying WAEC fees prior to the suspension of the policy, following the influx of students from neighbouring states.
“In 2016, government paid WAEC fees for all students but then we observed that students from neighbouring states started trooping into Niger.
“For now, we can’t distinguish between the real residents of Niger and those coming from other states to take the examinations for free, we stopped.”
Madugu noted that huge indebtedness to WAEC was also a factor for the suspension of the policy, adding that the present administration in the state inherited a debt of N469 million when it came on board in 2015.
“This issue of the state government paying WAEC fees for our students was inherited from the previous administration.
“We inherited it with a lot of debt to the tune of N469 million but this government took it upon itself to be paying this backlog of debt and up till today, we are still indebted to WAEC.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Mu’azu Aliyu- led administration introduced the policy as a deliberate attempt to abolish settler /indigene dichotomy and promote national unity.
The commissioner also said that the state government had employed 150 more teachers to improve the manpower in schools.
“I50 new teachers were employed, inducted and posted to schools to increase number of teacher supply.
“We have also conducted capacity building workshop for 1,046 in directorate cadre, Principals and Vice Principals of all the public secondary schools at the cost of N10.2 million.
According to her, the Abubakar Bello-led administration is committed to transforming the education sector, being the bedrock of development in the state.