By Douglas Okoro
Abakaliki – Mr Ndubuisi Chibueze-Agbo, former Commissioner for Education in Ebonyi, has condemned the steady rise of West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) and National Examination Council (NECO) fees.
Chibueze-Agbo, who spoke in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abakaliki, said the development posed danger to the education sector.
The former commissioner said that the sudden increase in NECO and WASSCE fees from N5,500 and N5,350 respectively in 2015, to N11,950 and N11,350 was outrageous.
He argued that the situation could deny children from less privileged homes from writing these very important certificate examinations.
The former commissioner noted that NECO was established in the year 2000 to break the monopoly of WAEC.
“Before year 2000, WAEC was the only examination body authorised by law to conduct Senior School Certificate Examination for both external and internal candidates.
“NECO came into being in 2000 to provide alternative to Nigerians and also to break the monopoly of WAEC and exorbitant fees charged by the examination body.
“But it’s regrettable and sad that the NECO has been in the forefront of championing examination fee hike in Nigeria from 2001 to date, ” Chibueze-Agbo said.
He noted that in year 2000, registration fees for both WASSCE and NECO was N1,000 while candidates who sat for the same examinations in 2001 paid N1,450 for WASSCE and N1,500 for NECO.
According to him, fees for both examinations went up in 2002 to N1,800 for NECO, and WASSCE N1650.
The former commissioner said there was another increment in 2003 that put NECO fee at N2,300, while WASSCE was registered with N2,250.
He said that increment in examination fees in Nigeria had been on steady rise and maintained that the current fees were the highest in the whole of Africa.
“From available statistics, 80 per cent of prospective WASSCE and NECO candidates in Ebonyi are yet to pay for the examinations because of the high cost of the fees.
“The situation poses serious threat to national security and call for urgent action to remedy it, “the ex-commissioner added.
He further called on the President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene and ensure that the fees were brought down to affordable level.
“ I appeal to Mr President to see the hike as a dangerous development in education sector and to cause same to be immediately reversed in the interest of the nation’s education system,’’ he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the Ebonyi Government had in a similar move urged WAEC and NECO to extend their deadlines for registration.
NAN also recalls that Ebony Government advice was in view of the few number of students that had registered for the examinations due to the fee hike.