Ekiti State Government has shut seven schools run by the Catholic Diocese of Ekiti for failure to pay the Education Development Levy.
Under a new tax regime in the state, pupils in primary and secondary schools are to pay N500 and N1,000, respectively.
The Catholic schools had sought an exclusion from the payment, a request the state government rejected.
The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Ekiti, Most Rev. Felix Ajakaye, who broke the news in Ado Ekiti, accused the state government of being insensitive, especially shutting the schools when pupils were preparing for their National Examination Council examinations
Ajakaye said, “I am concerned about the propriety of imposing any development levy on pupils in Catholic mission schools in Ekiti State, moreover when our schools are paying various levies and taxes demanded by the local and state governments respectively.
“The closure of the schools is painful to me. The pupils are preparing to sit for exams and the government is closing down their schools. This is insensitivity.”
The diocese operates 15 primary and seven secondary schools in the state.
Meanwhile, the state Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Mr. Jide Egunjobi, has confirmed the closure of schools.
He added, “It is true, we shut the schools that failed to pay. Schools that paid are in operation. We only shut those that refused to pay.
“We all agreed to the development levy at the education summit, so, there is no going back.”
In a related development, the church has sued the state government for imposing levies on pupils.
In a suit at the state high court by the Incorporated Trustees of the Catholic Diocese of Ekiti, the plaintiff asked the court to declare the imposition of such levies as illegal and unconstitutional.
The plaintiff noted that the action violated Section 2 of Compulsory Free Universal Basic Education Act 2004 and Section 19 of the state Universal Basic Education Board Law.
The defendants are the state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice as well as the Commissioner for Education.
The church asked the court to determine “whether every child of primary school and junior secondary school age in the state is not entitled to free and compulsory basic education under Section 2 of Compulsory Free Universal Education Act, 2004 and Section 19 of Ekiti State Universal Basic Education Board Law.”
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