Mixed reactions have trailed the Federal Government’s review of fees for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME), Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE), and Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE).
Some stakeholders, who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Thursday, commended the gesture and urged the government to overhaul the education sector.
NAN reports that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday approved the downward review of the examination registration fees which will take effect from January 2019.
The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, who announced the reduction after the FEC’s meeting said the Joint Admission Matriculation Board (JAMB) fees for UTME had been reduced from N5,000 to N3,500.
Mr Adamu said government also reduced the SSCE fees charged by the National Examinations Council (NECO) from N11,350 to N9,850 while the Basic School Certificate Examination (BSCE) by NECO was reduced from N5,500 to N4,000.
An entrepreneur, Sunday Ukachukwu, described the action as a `good step’ in the right direction.
“I give the Federal government credit for the downward review, but I think they can still do better because the reduction is not so significant.
“If they reviewed the fees by 50 per cent, the reduction would have been significant, but what you have is 13 per cent reduction,’’ he said.
A public affairs analyst, Ben Ekiyi, commended government for the reduction saying that it would ensure inclusiveness among other things.
“ It is a good thing because any reduction in prices of goods or services always makes the masses happy, especially in these times where many people are facing a lot of hardship.
“I feel this reduction will ensure inclusiveness as more students will now be able to write these examinations.
“Since more students will now be able to write the examinations, hidden potentials will be exposed, because we have some intelligent students who have not been able to afford the examination fees,’’ he said.
A parent, Lelo Apena, said the reduction of fees was a diversion from the real issues plaguing the education sector, such as poor quality of education, dilapidated infrastructure and out- of- school children.
According to her, this kind of reduction does not make any sense; N1,500 difference will not solve the problems bedeviling the education in Nigeria.
“I tell you, reduction in these fees is a kind of diversion from the real issue; has the government thought of reducing tuition fees so that those who are qualified will be enrolled and do not drop out for lack of fees?
“Our tertiary institutions are always on strike; is it the reduction of JAMB fees and NECO that will solve the poor quality of students and lecturer impact?
“Are the out-of-school children and their parents and guardians being helped to ensure their children are enrolled in school and not drop out before completion for various reasons?’’ she queried.
Mrs Apena was of the opinion that states government should take over the payment of JAMB and NECO fees for poor students in their communities.
A retiree, Ruseh Okaro, who also spoke to NAN, said the reduction was a welcome development, however, she said the quality of education was still a major cause of concern.
“It is a welcome development but I do not think the fees should have been as high as that in the first place, given the importance of education to the wellbeing of a nation.
“I also hope this reduction is sustainable and a holistic approach was used to arrive at these new fees”.
A parent, Shittu Ahmed, said the reduction was commendable, however, government should look into other areas of the sector such as dilapidated infrastructure and lack of learning materials.
A public servant, Folakemi Aina, said the reduction in the fees was long overdue and wondered why government was coming out with a lot of policies now that elections were drawing closer.