By Felix Khanoba
The National Examinations Council (NECO) says it will unleash all relevant sanctions on schools charging above N9,850 as registration fee for this year’s Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE).
Acting Registrar of NECO, Dr Abubakar Gana, made this known in Abuja on Wednesday while receiving House of Representatives’ Committee on Basic Education and Services on an oversight visit to the Council.
The NECO boss said the exam body has written to Commissioners for Education of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), warning them of the dire consequence of charging candidates above government-approved registration fee.
While raising an alarm that some schools were already charging between N19,000 and N20,000, Gana said such extortion of candidates would be treated as crossing the redline of the Federal Government’s directive.
He assured the Committee that the Council would leave no stone unturned to ensure that candidates are not defrauded while pursuing their education.
His words: “Not quite a month, we wrote to all the commissioners of education, highlighting that some schools, both public and private, are overcharging candidates. While the NECO fee itself is N9,850, some are even charging N20,000 in the name of administrative charges.
“Most of these schools are miracle centres and what they do there is that they perpetrate malpractice. Candidates who are lazy and don’t have confidence can go to the extent of paying N50,000 to register so they can have their way.”
On the planned conduct of the 2020 SSCE, the acting Registrar said the Council would engage members of the committee to monitor the examination and report any infraction to guide the council on appropriate actions to be taken.
“You have a very critical role to play. We will make sure that in all our activities, we would make you part of the monitoring team so you can see what is happening and at your own convenience, write a report to us,” he said.
Gana, who took the committee through the mandate of NECO, appealed to the National Assembly for an upward review of NECO’s budget, lamenting that the exam body has not embarked on any capital project for the past three years.
He said in 2018, it was budgeted that the Council will purchase 18 Hilux pickups but only N7 million was released to it which couldn’t even buy one.
On his part, the Chairman, House Committee on Basic Education and Services, Prof. Julius Ihovbere, said the team had a lot of confidence in NECO and those managing the agency.
“We believe that the role you have played, the only way to better appreciate it is to imagine Nigeria without NECO,” he opined.
He assured the exam body that the National Assembly would review its budget to enable it effectively carry out its duties seamlessly.