The Rivers State Government is continuing its clamp down on private schools in Port Harcourt in a move to ensure high standard of education in Rivers State. Last year, the operating licenses of 1,886 private schools in Rivers State were withdrawn for failing to meet government standards. 

At the weekend, the Commissioner for Education, Tamunosisi Gogo Jaja briefed newsmen on the ongoing clamp down. He mentioned Governor Wike has directed the ministry to check private schools that charge high fees and ensure that their fees are ‘commensurate’ with the value they provide. According to the commissioner, some schools that had their operating licenses withdrawn last year have upped their standards and regained their licenses.

“He (Governor Wike) has insisted that any private school not up to date with facilities should be shut down, and has insisted that the service private schools are giving to our parents or guardians must be commensurate with the charges they are heaping on parents. And that is what we are doing.
“I wish to say that we are not shutting them down because we want to shut them down, we are shutting them down to enable them meet up with certain standards. For those who have met the standard set out by the ministry, we have reopened them.”

The state government had earlier in January, announced its plans to regulate fees charged by private schools in the state. The commissioner said the state government will examine the curriculum of the schools, and measure it against the fees that are charged. There are however concerns that considering only the curriculum will not be a true measure for the fees. Some proprietors have asked the government to also include the running costs - electricity, taxes, cost of materials, etc.

The cost of private education has been a reoccurring topic of public debate in the country. Parents have complained about the exorbitant fees charged by schools that seem to be competing with each other over high fees. In Port Harcourt, schools charge as much as N150,000/term or more for crèche – kids less than one year. Given the condition of education in public schools, alternatives are not exactly available to enforce a boycott; parents and guardians are left with the option to only complain.