The Parent Teacher Association (PTA) Chairmen Forum of South West Unity Schools has urged the newly appointed Minister of Education to bring his wealth of experience to bear, to sanitise the system.
This is contained in a statement by both Prof. Lukuman Jimoda and Dr Emmanuel Onyenuche, Chairman/Zonal Coordinator and zonal Secretary respectively, issued to newsmen on Saturday in Lagos.
According to the statement, the colleges remain national treasures contributing to the much-desired national development.
“We want to, first of all, welcome the newly appointed Minister of Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman, and his State counterpart for Education, Mr Tanko Sununu.
“We pray for your success in office while assuring you of the unalloyed support of parents, as critical stakeholders.
“Having said this, we also wish to appeal to you to hit the ground running in a bid to sanitise the entire 110 Unity Colleges across the country, in a bid to upscale the standard and get desired results,” it said.
The statement said that in the light of improving the standard of education in these colleges, the government must also consider the enforcement of a rigorous and merit-based admission process by admitting only deserving candidates.
“It has come to our attention that some parents have resorted to cheating centres, also known as special centres, to gain an unfair advantage during the entrance examination.
“We urge you to direct the National Examinations Council (NECO) to emulate the integrity demonstrated by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) in conducting the examination.
“Upholding the sanctity of the entrance examination will ensure that these unity schools are populated by deserving students who will contribute positively to nation building,” it stated.
The statement further urged the Federal Government to take a holistic approach to the funding and maintenance of the colleges, in a bid to reduce the financial burden on parents.
It noted that the dearth of teaching and non-teaching staff in the colleges was another source of concern to the parents, as this had further increased their financial burden, by way of stepping in to employ such staff, to fill the existing gaps.
According to the statement, there is a need for the government to consider the PTA-employed staff, who work hand in hand with their counterparts employed by the government in these colleges, so as to sustain the standard of education.
“It is worrisome to state that some of these staff employed by the PTA have been hopeful for employment conversion for over a decade.
“This measure will significantly reduce the financial burden on parents and ensure the continued delivery of quality education.
“We also want to appeal for a downward review in boarding fees. We are aware that the Federal Government often subsidises food for our children
“However, we also urge the appropriate agency to also monitor this food aspect, so as to ensure that the intervention manifests in the welfare of our children.
“As representatives of parents whose children attend unity schools, we are deeply troubled by the potential adverse effect of the proposed increase in fees and levies on the masses, especially in this period of harsh economic realities.
“Quality education is the cornerstone of national development and these unity colleges are one of the few avenues where children of the masses can assess this form of education, regardless of their socio-economic background,” it stated.
The statement added that with the recent hike in fuel pump prices and the prevailing economic difficulties faced by many families, the proposed increase would force a lot of children to drop out of school, thereby truncating their quest for education.
The Southwest zone of Unity Colleges comprises 18 Federal Government schools.