Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
Concerned parents of students of University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) School of Midwifery, have raised the alarm over the alleged indirect imposition of ‘gift levy’ on the students.
It was learnt that it had become an annual ritual to compel the final year students to contribute money to buy parting gifts for the school officials and external examiners.
It was also gathered that the school officials take turn to cart home such gifts, year after year.
Students of the immediate-past set were allegedly made to buy a washing machine as a gift, besides gifts and lunch meal provided for external examiners from the University of Benin (UNIBEN).
It was gathered that a student who ‘had the guts to question the rational behind the ‘gifts’ was not allowed to graduate with other students.
One of the parents who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of her daughter being victimised, said each of the students of the 2019/2020 set was told to contribute N15,000, as they planned to buy a power generating set for the school officials.
“I wonder why they will still tacitly ask the students to buy gifts for them [school officials] and their external examiners, after spending so much on school fees and other sundry expenses?
“We gathered on good authority that a student who spoke against the gift money was made to repeat his final semester. That is why many of the students pay the money out of fear of being victimised.
“To me, it is an act of corruption, after all, they are paid to do whatever they do.”
But, the principal of the school, Mrs. Franca Esebame, denied the allegation, insisting that apart from the annual fee of N241,000 for the entire academic session, not even a dime was collected from the students.
Esebame who spoke in her office at UBTH, explained that the students did not pay cash to the school but into the hospital’s coffers.
“For the 18 months duration of the programme, the students do not pay any money to the school. The school fee is N241,000 which is either paid in three installments or once to the hospital. No student pays money to anybody throughout the duration of the programme,” she said
The principal insisted that since the school was founded, it had always insisted on high standards and discipline.
She said that should the students on their own decide to voluntarily pull resources together and buy gifts for any of the staff or external examiner, the authorities cannot stop them.