The federal government on Thursday argued for the payment of compulsory levy by students in primary and secondary schools across Nigeria.

The levy was debated on Thursday at the 63rd ministerial session of the National Council Education (NCE).

The approval for the levy was initially contained in the communique from the session but was later expunged.

The compulsory annual development levy would have been N500 for primary school pupils and N1000 for secondary school students across the country, if approved.

According to the initial draft of the communique, the funds would be paid into a dedicated account called “Development Levy Account”.

At the session on Thursday, a delegate who did not introduce himself, said the introduction of the levy negates the mandate of free education as stated in the UBEC Act 2004.

In his reaction, the Minister of State for Education, Anthony Anwukah, said the issue of the development fee by students will go through policy stages as the council deliberates on strategies and ways to increase funding.

“Although UBEC act says education is free, but it subjected to amendment, we are trying to find solution to funding problem of education,” indicating the government was in support of some levy.

Mr Anwukah called for additional taxation for funding education in Nigeria in order to put an end to endless cry of underfunding in the sector.

Also, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Sunny Echono, said pupils and parents should take responsibility to make contribution to education.

Following the lack of consensus on the levy, the permanent secretary later asked the NCE to expunge the section from the communique, which was done.

The council also approved the establishment of education bank and students’ loan boards by states at concessionary interest rates to allow students easy access to loans.

No such public loans are currently available for Nigerian students despite the increasing fees charged by public and private higher institutions.

The council also approved the re-establishment of State Education Development Fund (SEDFund) and other funds to create additional but sustainable funding source to improve education service delivery in post-basic schools for the achievement of 2030 Agenda.

“Council approved the Establishment of a Special Intervention Fund for persons with Special Needs.

On the issue of religion curriculum, the council stated that the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) had completed the separation of Christian Religion Studies (CRS) and Islamic Studies (IS) from Religion and National Values Curriculum.

It, therefore, approved the teaching, learning and assessment of CRS, IS and National Values as stand-alone subjects at the basic education level.

It noted that critical stakeholders like the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, among others, were involved in the separation process.

The council had also approved the draft of National Policy on Open Educational Resources (OER) for higher education in Nigeria for immediate Implementation.

“The Communiqué was adopted by the Council by a motion moved by Gombe State and seconded by Rivers State on this day, the 2nd August, 2018”, the communique stated.

A total of 652 delegates were in attendance from the 36 states and FCT, heads of parastatals in the education sector and stakeholders from private organisations and the United Nations agencies.

The NCE is the highest policy making body aimed at addressing challenges and proffering solutions to problems confronting the education sector.

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