Why Children Of The Poor Can’t Attend Unity Schools | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe

News, Slider

Why Children Of The Poor Can’t Attend Unity Schools

Posted: Oct 2, 2015 at 12:36 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

• N111,000 For PTA Levy, Wears In Lagos  •N97,700 For Sundries In Abia  •‘They Say Tuition Is Free But Charge For This And That’

By Innocent Oweh (Abuja), Apata Oyeniran (Lagos), Nsa Gill (Calabar), Patience Ogbodo-Iwuagwu (Bauchi), Felix Igbekoyi (Asaba), Emma Arubi (Warri), Emmanuel Nzomiwu (Enugu), Anolu Vincent (Owerri) and Onoja Audu (Jos).


The resumption of students of unity schools or Federal Government Colleges across the country has no doubt left gaping holes in the pockets of their parents.

Investigations by Daily Independent, for example, revealed that parents pay between N150,000 and N250,000 per student newly admitted into any of the nation’s unity schools.

The bills vary slightly from state to state.

For instance, a parent is required to pay N206,800 to enroll a child into JSS1 at the Federal Science and Technical College, Yaba, Lagos, while a similar unity college in Abuja attracts about N186,000 and in Bauchi, parents pay about N80,000.

School Children

School Children

Despite the huge costs, however, parents do not seem discouraged from getting their wards into the schools, going by the high number of students prospecting to secure admission into the Junior Secondary School (JSS1) classes every year.

Some of the parents who spoke with Daily Independent expressed the desire to still have their children admitted into the schools, citing the prospects of better educational quality, disciplinary measures and the security around the college environment.

But the high cost has, however, limited such desire to the rich and wealthy elite parents in the society, while brilliant children of the poor are forced to seek cheaper options, such as model colleges run by state governments whose bills are tolerably cheaper, at least for middle class parents, and the conventional public secondary schools for all children of parents without any particular financial and social distinctions.

Daily Independent also investigations revealed that some poor parents had been forced to abandon placements secured by their wards into the unity colleges after successfully passing the entrance examinations because of the huge bills. 

There are a total of 104 unity colleges in the country which many candidates still desire to attend in spite of the cost implication.

But despite the surge in applicants, the Federal Government says it is not in a hurry to build more, even as parents from the southern parts of the country are wary of sending their children and wards to any of those in the north, particularly the Boko Haram ravaged North-East states.

For instance, within the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, the colleges cost between N150,000 and N186,000 for new entrants into the colleges, while those in remote places cost between N80,000 to N100,000, as against fees for standard private secondary schools within the FCT; some charge between N200,000 and above.

According to a source at the Federal Ministry of Education, parents whose children’s names are not on the merit list, sometimes approach officials to help procure admission for their wards through other means, because they cannot afford the exorbitant fees charged in other conventional schools within the FCT.

A parent in Abuja told Daily Independent under anonymity: “Let me be sincere with you, the unity colleges are cheaper when compared with private schools in FCT here. For entry level student, you pay between N180,000 for school fees for accommodation and all other requirements, then subsequently you pay very little in school fees.

“More often than not, the Parents Teachers Association (PTA) fees built into the amount paid in the unity colleges makes it exorbitant. Again, most of us don’t want our children to be too far from us because of security challenges,” he added.

Director of Basic and Secondary Education, Federal Ministry of Education, Anne Okonkwo, who oversees the admission processes of the unity colleges could not be reached for her comments.

Another parent, Mrs. Beatrice Nnabuchi said, “I am still trying to change the institution my children were given admission in Nasarawa State because to travel from Abuja to Nasarawa to see them will take me at least three hours and the location is in a remote village.


A copy of the bill for new entrants into the JSS1 at the Federal Science and Technical College, Yaba, obtained by Daily Independent puts the total figure for new entrants at N206,800. The monies are broken into eight broad categories and parents are also required to obtain eight separate bank drafts to cover each of the bills and levies.

A new entrant pays N30,000 as admission processing fee in cash to the Head of Students’ Matters before final clearance while all students are required to submit a ream of A4 duplicating paper for secretarial work.

All items grouped under the college wears cost N37,700; classroom/hostel items, N23,500; and college books, N17,300. Whereas the bill shows that tuition is free, other sundry items also attract N24,300. The bill from the school’s PTA attracts the highest figure of N74,000.

Mrs. Margaret Aigbe, whose son just registered for JS1 at the FSTC Yaba, told Daily Independent that the unity colleges have become elitist and beyond the reach of children of the poor.

Reminded that many of such children exist at the school, she queried the percentage of indigent students on the enrolment at the colleges, calling for a probe into the bloated bills imposed on parents and guardians.

“We only heard of the list of quality alumnus of the colleges without impressionable physical development of the colleges by these sets of people.

“If governments decided to hands off the colleges they would be the first to bid for their purchase.

“What we have is a federal and unity college where parents are responsible for the provision of desks and locker and yet parents are still forced to make contributions for the upkeep of the colleges,” she added.


Following the neglect of public schools especially at the state level, many parents seek admission for their children in the unity schools.

Unfortunately, some of the parents are becoming frustrated due to high entrance fees into the unity schools, which some average Nigerians cannot afford.

Investigation revealed that entrance fees into Junior Secondary Schools in Federal Government Girls College, Bauchi, cost between N60,00 to N70,000 while Senior Secondary  School entrance fees cost about N80,000.

Mrs. Sheba Ezekiel who has three children in FGGS, Bauchi, lamented the high cost, urging the Federal Government to look into the situation so that it would make it easy for low income earners to enroll their children in the school.

“We urge the government to come to our aid and reduce the fees so that we will be able to train our children in school,” she said.

 Cross River

Mrs. Ikpali, whose child schools at Federal Government Girls College, Calabar (FGGCC) , acknowledged the fact that the school had enjoyed a face-lift in its boarding facilities and classroom blocks.

She believes the fees are moderate at about N40,000 for her child, a boarder, and returning students.

Another parent, who gave his name simply as Okoro said he paid about N180,000 for his child into JSS1 at the school.

The school principal, Mrs. Ijeoma Essien, did not answer calls to her phone, or reply to SMS enquiry for a confirmation of the exact amount charged by the school.


To secure admission into the Federal Government College, FGC, Warri, costs almost a N100,000 for JSS1, while the Government College, Ughelli, also in the state, costs N50,000.

Teachers who spoke to Daily Independent on condition of anonymity said the high cost was to make up of sundry expenses, even if they constitute illegal charges.

A parent who spoke to Daily Independent, Mr. Ogbobine said “three years ago they only paid N4,000 into these classes,” lamenting the current charges by the new principal who claimed that the extra charges are meant to effect repairs and other minor expenses.

It was gathered that some old students of the schools had queried the astronomical charges, which they say are unacceptable.

Principal of the FGC, Warri, Mr. A.A. Fabiyi, could not be reached to comment on the matter, but another staff said there was nothing wrong in the fees being charged as it covers both tuition and feeding.

At the Federal Government Girls College, FGGC, Ibusa, also in Delta State, where new intakes into Junior Secondary School, are billed to resume on October 4, 2015, the school bursar, Mr. Anyanwu C, who signed the school’s payment letter, claimed that tuition was free but boarders are to pay N34,250 and N8,000 for day students per term. The total money to be paid for procurement was put at N58,500 and PTA levy, N25,000 per term.


Parents in FGCs, known as unity schools, in the South-East have cried out over very exorbitant fees they were charged by authorities of the institutions.

A survey conducted by Daily Independent in Enugu revealed that fresh students in the unity schools pay between N160, 000 to N200, 000 while old students pay between N20, 000 to N39,000, depending on the institution.

For instance, to register a fresh student in the FGC, Enugu, costs about N200,000 while old students pay about N20, 000 every term.

Although from our findings, tuition is free for both new and old students, the students pay the exorbitant fees under different sub-headings.

It was gathered that the new students who pay N200,000 were charged for textbooks and other instructional materials, uniforms, pullovers, canvass, bed sheets, among others.

A parent, Nkiru Ndu, told our correspondent that she struggled for her ward to gain admission into the school, thinking that it would be cheaper than the private schools, but at the end of the day, the unity school turned out to be more expensive than the private schools.

“To register my child at Federal Government College Enugu cost me about N200,000. You can go there and verify what I am telling you,” Ndu said.

The story was not different at Federal Government Girls College, Leja, located in Nsukka LGA of Enugu State, as a staff of University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) who has a daughter in the school, said she paid N160, 000 to register her as a new student.

An Enugu-based civil servant, Chibueze Okoro, whose children are in unity schools in the South East, described what is happening in the Federal Government-owned institutions as “exploitative”.

“One of my children is at Federal Science and Technical College, Awka, and every term, they charge N36, 000. The one at Federal Government College, Ezamgbo, pays N39,000 a term. It costs much more for new students. They will tell you tuition is free but they charge you for canvass, polo, this and that”, Okoro said.

Okoro urged the Federal Government to intervene and stop the exploitation going on in the unity schools.


A recent survey by Daily Independent in Abia State revealed that parents pay a total N97,900 for new entrants to the Federal Science and Technical College, Ohanso, Ukwa East LGA, for sundry charges. These include boarding fee, N8,000; examination fee, N250; vocational, N500; medical clubs and societies, N300; and utility, N300.

Others are library N500, computerised result N700, caution (on Admission) N1,000; ICT, N1,000; PTA approved meal subsidy, N3,000.

According to the Bursar of the College, Akandu I.B, payments must be by bank draft at the following any of UBA, First Bank, Zenith, GTB, Union and Access Bank, even as parents must “not lump school fees with PTA levy”.

The above notwithstanding, parents are also required to pay the following extra charges – lesson N2,000, Bunk bed and classroom furniture N17,000, exercise books N2,000, and uniforms – N15,000.

Further charges include, Cardigan for N1,200, ID card, N500, school prospectus, N300, sports – N1,200; insurance – N5,000 and a blazer for N5,500, payable to the school’s account with the Diamond Bank. The Account name is FSTC Ohanso and Account number is 0032815622

A school proprietor, Mrs. Ijeoma Onyekwere denounced the high fees and levies being charged in the government. “Why should a school owned by federal government even charge a kobo as a school fees? The government also accuses us who own private schools of exploiting parents but they are the worst culprits in this regard”, she said. 

A release by the Parent-Teachers Association (PTA) and signed by the Financial Secretary, Josephine C. Enyinnah and Caretaker Chairman, Venerable Kenneth C. W Oforji (JP) also requested parents to pay additional N19,100, covering N4,000 as PTA levy, and for N15,000 Special Development.


Parents whose wards gained admission into the JSS1 for year 2015/2016 into Federal Government College, Jos, groan under huge burden of the exorbitant school fees.

Our correspondent gathered that the payments were divided into three parts – A, B and other charges.

According to the findings, the school authority charges boarding fees, utility, sports, vocational, exams, medicals, caution fee, ID card, customised exercise books and insurance, all totaling N19,600.00; while Part B covers the cost of blazer, which is classified as compulsory, N5,500, Beret for Girls N700, Class locker and bunk for N17,000.00, Customised uniform N15,000, totaling N38,200.00 while extra lesson fee goes for N2,000.

Part C of the charges are books to be purchased at school prices and wards to also pay for class dues, hostel locker, club dues and house dues.

Comrade John Onu, whose child is one of the new entrants told Daily independent  in Jos that unity schools were no longer what it used to be, as parents are made to pay heavily for their wards to gain entry into Federal Government Colleges.

He said parents pay not less than N125,000 on their wards for first term school charges before being accepted into the hostels, lamenting how parents now have to pay for beddings, lockers, bed, mattresses etc. whereas such items used to be the solely provided by the Federal Ministry of Education.

Onu called on the Federal Government to beam its searchlight on the unity schools across the country for the sake of returning the schools back to the original dream of the founding fathers.

Principal of the school, Manko M. R., was not available for comments when Daily Independent called at his office. It was learnt that he had recently been transferred to the Federal Ministry of Education, Abuja.