Proprietors of private schools in Plateau have cried out over what they called multiple taxes in the state.
They also expressed the fear that “such massive extortion” could lead to the closure of some institutions.
“The taxes are not only very heavy, but so many.
` We have been trying to get the authorities to harmonise them otherwise it will be very difficult for many of us to cope,” Chief Ezekiel Sabo, President, National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS) in Plateau, said on Sunday.
Sabo, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), listed the taxes to include the N200,000 charged schools whose registration process was still on-going.
Other charges, he said, included the annual renewal fee of between N75,000 and N200,000, depending on the number of arms as well as the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) taxes paid on behalf of school workers.
He said that the proprietors were also charged separate taxes, depending on the income and size of the school.
“In the case of proprietor’s tax, government officials will just call for your books, assess them and declare what you will pay.
` Nothing is specified and there is no criteria to prepare you ahead,” he said.
Other charges include tenement rate paid to local governments in addition to that collected by the Fire Service.
Sabo said that NAPPS had met with officials of the Ministry of Education, Board of Internal Revenue and local government councils where it pleaded that the taxes be reviewed and harmonised to ease payment.
“We need such review and harmonisation to enable us plan ahead and stay afloat,” he said.
On service delivery, he said NAPPS had mapped out strategies, including peer review mechanisms as well as consistent training of teachers to boost quality.
He called for a law to make it mandatory for individuals or groups seeking to establish private schools to first seek clearance from NAPPS so as to ensure quality and minimise proliferation of private schools.
“NAPPS should be given powers to regulate schools.
“Such powers will include inspecting the emerging schools to be sure they met standards and conformed with basic requirements,” he said.
Sabo also called for more involvement of NAPPS in educational policies, wondering why the body was usually left out in spite of the crucial role it was playing in the provision of quality education.
He also decried a situation where assistance to schools was never extended to private schools.
“The private and public schools have one goal – educating young Nigerians toward a better country; so it is wrong to assist one and leave the other since the goal and benefits are one,’’ he said.
Sabo, who also reacted to the alleged involvement of private schools in examination malpractice, said:
“I don’t know about the situation in other states, but in Plateau, not many private schools are guilty of that.
“In 2014, for instance, out of nine schools indicted for examination malpractice during WAEC and NECO examinations, only three were private schools.
“In 2015, nine schools were also indicted; none of them was a private school.’’
He said that private schools were usually more careful during the examinations “because the torch lights of examination bodies are always on us.
“We have the fear that anyone that is caught will have his school closed, in addition to other sanctions.
“But for the government schools, the worst punishment is to transfer the principal, so they do not have much to lose,” he explained.
Sabo, however, urged government and other employers to de-emphasise certificate qualifications and rather opt for quality and experience so as to minimise the craze for undeserved grades at examinations.
The president said that NAPPS would soon set up a disciplinary committee to check unwholesome practices among members, vowing to rid private schools of people whose main concern was profit.