Abakaliki - The Ebonyi Government on Wednesday announced the proscription of seven schools that were operating illegally.
The Commissioner for Education, Ndubuisi Chibueze-Agbo, made the announcement at a news conference in Abakaliki.
He said that the schools, which were also substandard, were said to be operating without the requisite approval from the ministry.
He stressed that the schools lacked essential learning facilities such libraries, science laboratories, introductory technology workshops, sports facilities as well as functional administrative blocks.
Chibueze-Agbo said that these facilities were prescribed by the extant laws guiding the establishment of schools in the state.
He frowned at the poor and deplorable environment in which some of the schools were operating, describing the situation as grossly unacceptable.
"The committee on closure of illegal and substandard schools conducted an assessment tour of private schools operating in the state.
"The committee was horrified by some discoveries; in some of the affected schools, our children were packed like sardines under horrible and squalid conditions.
"The committee also discovered that these schools lacked adequate accommodation to cater for the number of pupils and students they enrolled.
"A classroom in some of the schools contains no fewer than 60 pupils,” he said.
Besides, Chibueze-Agbo said that all the teaching staff in the affected schools did not possess requisite teaching qualifications.
"The National Council on Education has made the National Certificate in Education (NCE) the least teaching qualification in the country.
"None of our public schools’ teachers teach with nothing less than NCE and we want the same scenario in our private schools.
"What we are saying is that for you to run a private school in this state, you must have the minimum standard requirement with regard to facilities and personnel,” he said.
Chibueze-Agbo, nonetheless, stressed that tangible efforts would be made to enforce the regulation, adding that the state government was taking necessary steps to reposition the educational sector in line with the ongoing reform.
He, however, warned that state government would punish proprietors of illegal schools, describing their action as criminal.
"It is a criminal offence for anyone to operate a school without obtaining necessary approval from the government; offenders will, therefore, be prosecuted,” he added.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that five private nursery and primary schools, as well as two private secondary schools were closed down.
NAN also recalls that the government in a similar exercise in 2012 proscribed about 160 private primary and secondary schools for similar reasons.