Parents in Nigeria are becoming more apprehensive as secondary schools are gearing up to resume nationwide for the 2017/2018 academic session. Some parents of students in the federal government owned secondary schools under the aegis of Unity Schools Parents Forum have called on the National Insurance Commission (NICON) to resolve the controversy generated by an insurance scheme facilitated by NICON insurance in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Education. This appeal is to avert impending turbulence that it might cause across the country.
According to the spokesperson of the group, Kingsley Akindele, “this issue has been on for a while and the parents have over the years made their positions known about the scheme. For the umpteenth time parents are calling for the attention of the public on the fraud that is going on in the sector. Parents, at different forums stated that the N5,000 insurance scheme premium per student in federal government owned schools is not acceptable. It is unfair that the parents would be made to be paying for a scheme they knew nothing about.”
Speaking further Akindele said, “Trouble is eminent in the schools as some schools are already refusing parents who have paid their school fees without the insurance fees to convert their bank tellers to their respective school receipts. The major concern of most parents is the alleged diversion of the money for personal use by the management of the Jimoh Ibrahim owned insurance company.”
“It is expedient to recall that in 2016, we called the attention of the FG, through the ministry of education and especially the Economic Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) to look closely at the scheme which no parent seems to understand. Parents are yet to understand the technicalities of the contract and arrangement involving the unity schools, the Federal Ministry of Education and the NICON insurance company.”
However, Akindele said most parents are not against the scheme, “but want it to be transparent, with clearly defined terms and conditions which will also be subject to review annually. This, most importantly, must be optional.”
The National Association of Parents, Teachers Association of Federal Government Colleges (NAPTAFEGC), South-west Zone, during its quarterly meeting at the Federal Government Girls’ College, Akure, Ondo State, rejected what it described as the imposition of an unnecessary insurance policy scheme on students of unity colleges and called for the standardisation of education in the country.
The association first made its position public during its March 2015 quarterly meeting at the Federal Government Girls’ College, Akure, Ondo State, where chairmen of NAPTAFEGC from the 18 colleges in the zone discussed issues including the way forward for education in the region.
According to the Zonal Coordinator, Rufus Famuwagun, the association, which he described as the strongest stakeholder and partner in progress to the Federal Ministry of Education, is out to defend, uphold and sustain the vision of the founding fathers of unity colleges.
Though the chairmen saw nothing wrong with an insurance policy for their wards, they argued that the federal government has adequate funds to bankroll the insurance policy for the school children and spare their parents further financial burden at this period when the pains of recession is still being felt.
Also in 2016, The National Association of Parents and Teachers of Federal Government Colleges, an affiliate body of the Parents Teachers Association (PTA), says it will not accept N5,000-insurance fee in unity schools. The former Chairman of PTA, Federal Government College, Kwali and North Central Zonal Coordinator of National Association of Parents and Teachers of Federal Government Colleges, Mr Ehis Ogbeide, said in Abuja that the association was not concerned about the old N1,500-insurance scheme which had fizzled out on its own but would not accept the introduction of another fee.
NICON Insurance scheme was introduced to all students in the federal government owned secondary schools otherwise known as the unity secondary schools throughout the country in 2015. Since then, it has continued to generate controversy, where the majority of the parents claimed that the annual N5,000 per child is on the high side, which means over 200,000 students from 104 unity schools nationwide will generate over a billion Naira annually. Most important to note, the parents have never in any way contacted before the scheme became active by the insurance company, the school authority or the federal government.