The Federal Government has promised to refund over N96m paid by parents to process admission to unity colleges, following the cancellation of the 2008 national common entrance and placement of candidates into junior secondary schools in the country.
The Minister of State for Education, Hajiya Aishatu Dukku Jubril, told our correspondent in a telephone interview on Thursday that the ministry was working out the modalities to refund the money paid for the exam to parents and guardians of the affected children.
She said, ?They will get their money back. We will refund every money they spent including the money used to purchase scratch cards.
?We have owned up that we erred. This is why we apologised profusely. We know the trauma that the children and parents have gone through both psychologically and emotionally,
?I am a mother too and I do not derive enjoyment from seeing children so sad. It is better to detect a mistake early and make efforts to correct it than to ask the children to withdraw after a year. It is painful but what we have done is still better than the other option.
?It is still early enough for them to find an alternative. They can start on a fresh note.??
The Federal Ministry of Education had in a half-page advertisement in The Punch edition of Thursday, November 27,2008, informed the public, especially concerned parents and guardians of pupils that wrote the common entrance examination into unity schools in the country, that the consequent placement of candidates into junior secondary schools in federal unity colleges had been cancelled.
It said the cancellation became necessary because the examination was conducted in error as it violated certain provisions of the Universal Basic Education Commission Act 2004.
The advert reads, ?For the avoidance of doubt, the UBEC Act prescribes and mandates ?every government in Nigeria to provide free compulsory universal basic education for nine years.? Following the commencement of the UBEC Act (2004), the primary six first school leaving certificate had ceased to be issued as the nine years prescribed was to run in a continuum.??
The ministry said it apologised for the error in carrying out this unnecessary exercise.
?We also deeply regret the inconveniences that the exercise may have caused our dear pupils, parents/guardians and the general public, who hitherto, had placed their hope of securing admission for their wards in the federal unity colleges,?? the ministry added.
But in spite of the ministry?s explanation, most parents had agitated for a refund of the money expended on the examination and the subsequent interview conducted by the National Examinations Council, saying parents and children should not be made to pay for the ministry?s mistake.
This agitation, among others, prompted the telephone interview with the education minister.
Asked why the ministry went ahead to conduct the examination in spite of the fact that the Federal Government cancelled the examination two years ago, Jubril said, ?This is not the time to trade blames on why the exam was conducted in the first place. Government is a continuum. We have accepted the fact that we did it in error. To err is human.??
Earlier, the Public Relations Officer, NECO, Mrs. Folake Eweje, had told our correspondent that the council was not planning to refund the examination fees.
Each candidate paid N1, 500 to obtain registration form while those called for interview paid additional N500 each.