Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Federal Ministry of Education has suspended admission exercise into its 104 Federal Government Colleges (FGCs) otherwise known as Unity Schools over admission racketeering and other allegation of corruption.
The decision is to allow the ministry review the exercise, in response to allegations that some schools, especially the Lagos-based ones, were involved in “under the table admission” which has allegedly led to over-subscription.
From all indications, the decision could affect the October 7 closing date for admissions and other related exercise for fresh and returning students.
The suspension of admission exercise, which was communicated to basic and secondary education department and other relevant departments of the ministry by the permanent secretary, has caused anxiety among parents and children who are yet to secure admission, as well as some staff of the ministry.
In last few days, parents have besieged the headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Education, Abuja, to get answers to questions as regards delayed admission and issues about transfer of candidates.
The source said: “Admission into Lagos based schools especially Kings and Queens Colleges as well as few other ones are highly competitive because of quality of education, reputation and other factors. Some parents could do anything possible including financial commitment to secure admission for their child(ren) there.
“Also, the elites with strong political connections always approach minister, permanent secretary or other senior ministry officials for admission of their children or relatives.
“If eventually their requests are granted through a letter addressed to any of the principals or verbal recommendations, the racketeers both at the colleges and ministry headquarters would easily smuggle names along with the letters to principals of the colleges.
“The carrying capacity of the schools have been exceeded for both fresh and returning students, and that is a big challenge for the school and ministry. Permanent Secretary got to know recently and has had issued a query to principals of both colleges and asked that admission exercise be put on hold until further notice.”
President, National Association of Parents Teachers Association of Federal Government Colleges (NAPTAFEGC), Kefas Dandaura, said he has not received any report of racketeering and other wrong doings.
He, however, complained about the activities of some principals and other management particularly as it concerns admissions into the Unity Schools.
“There are admission slots that, ordinarily, should be given to staff, PTA and School Based Management Committee (SBMC) for their voluntary service to the schools but that has not been coming.”
He commended the permanent secretary for the steps taken on principals of some of the Lagos based especially Kings and Queens Colleges, expressing hope that it would serve as lesson to other Principals.
The outgoing director of basic and secondary education in federal ministry of education, Lami Amodu, neither responded to several phone calls nor returned the calls.
But Deputy Director, Press, in the ministry, Ben Goong, said admission exercise was never suspended as claimed.
“Admission exercise has gone far except for few slots that are remaining in some schools. For instance, Queens College has carrying capacity for 400 new students but I can confirm that over 350 of the students have received their admission letters and are awaiting resumption.”
On issue of racketeering, the ministry spokesman said they have not received any petition.
“It is the responsibility of the minister and permanent secretary to conduct admission into Unity Schools. They can choose to delegate the power to anyone including principal of the schools or any other officials. So, it’s unfair to accuse them of giving list of names to principals for preferential treatment when they have the powers to conduct admissions.”
A parent of a newly admitted student into Kings College, Lagos, who pleaded anonymity said he took admission letter for his son to the school for registration and documentation but was turned back by officials.