By Adekola Afolabi
The Ondo State House of Assembly Committee on Education, Science and Technology has disclosed that it would partner the state Ministry of Education, Science and Technology to close down all illegal schools operating in the state.
Chairman of the committee, Olusegun Ajimotokin who disclosed this at a stakeholders’ meeting held at the Conference Room of the Assembly complex, described operation of illegal schools in the state as inimical to the development of qualitative education.
The meeting was based on the letter written to the House by the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS), Ondo State chapter, in respect of some taxes/levies being charged by various Ministries, Agencies of government and Local Governments.
NAPPS President in the state, Derick Ijidakinro had, in the petition to the Assembly, described the various charges as killing, appealing to the state House of Assembly to come to their rescue as the development could have negative effects on the development of education in the state.
Ijidakinro explained that they were ready to pay their taxes as responsible citizens, but the taxes should be harmonised and limited to Annual Renewal levy, Personal Income Tax (PAYE) and signage and Advertisement levy.
While speaking at the meeting, Director of school, Ministry of Education, Mr Fola Dara, said government has approved the closure of all illegal schools in the state come January next year.
He expressed worry over the increasing numbers of illegal schools, saying that illegal schools spring up in every part of the state on daily basis, a situation which if not urgently addressed, will adversely affect standard of education in the state.
Ajimotokin, a Deputy Majority Leader of the House who threw his weight behind the closure of illegal schools, said the committee would partner the Ministry of Education, and that any school that refuses to comply with the law and policy of government as far as education is concerned is not entitled to existence.
He described education as very important which must be taken serious, hence quacks must not be allowed to destroy the critical sector.
The Deputy Majority Leader who noted that the committee would continue to place priority on qualitative education in the state, also insisted that education sector must be sanitised to make the state a pacesetter in the nation’s education industry.
According to him, during the monitoring exercise of the committee, many illegal schools were discovered across the state, noting that the ugly trend must not be allowed to continue.
Ajimotokin emphasised the committee would partner the state Ministry of Education to close down all the illegal schools in no distance time.
He assured that the closure would not be done maliciously or to wicked some operators for personal reasons, but normal procedure and due process would be followed in closing down the affected schools.
In addressing the issue of multiple taxation, the Committee invited the major stakeholders which included the Ministry of Education; Ministry of Commerce and Industry; Ministry of Environment; Board of Adults, Technical and Vocational Education; Waste Management Board; Signage and Advertisement Agency, Local Government, with a view to finally resolving the issue.
Officials of Board of Internal Revenue were, however, not in attendance at the meeting.
At the meeting all the invited stakeholders including NAPPS agreed to work together to move the state education forward.
The committee chairman who described the meeting as very successful, further opined that it was necessary that the plight of NAPPS was considered to prevent them from running at losses.
“We must have a way of motivating and encouraging these school owners to ensure they continue to exist in the business. That is why whatever amount they are going to pay we must be considerate as a government and that is what all of the stakeholders have agreed on at the meeting.
We will continue to sit down and iron out some things so that government also would not be affected in anyway and so also the operators of schools”, Ajimotokin said. He said another smaller meeting would soon be called to finally resolve all the issues raised by NAPPS and other stakeholders.