Enugu- The Enugu State government has advised operators of unlicensed private schools to close them down because it is a criminal offence to continue to operate them.
Speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Enugu on Friday, the Commissioner for Education, Dr Simon Ortuanya, said the government had fortified its enforcement arm to identify violators of the law.
The commissioner was reacting to the operations of some private schools initially shut by the state government in October 2011.
He said the perpetrators would face prosecution, noting that students of such schools would not be endorsed for the first school leaving certificate examination, common entrance examination, WAEC and NECO examinations.
``I am not aware of any school that was closed that has been reopened. Even when some of these schools are closed, some of the proprietors continue to run illegally.
``If you do it illegally, we will not endorse your students for common entrance, we will not endorse them for first school leaving certificate examination and we are not going to give you approval to write WASC, WAEC or NECO as the case may be.
``What we have tried to do is to set up machinery for enforcement.
``We can continue to go round to inspect schools and make sure that these schools that we have closed down, that they comply with our directives, so, we are trying to fortify our enforcement arm to ensure compliance with the steps that we have taken.
``If somebody is acting illegally, the Enugu State Education Law makes it a criminal offence and so the person can be prosecuted.’’
Ortuanya lamented that most private schools in the state hired unqualified teachers, adding that the government was posed to tackle the problem by shutting such schools.
He advised parents to always ensure that their children and wards were enrolled into government -approved private schools.
He said: ``our parents should be careful. They should know where they send their children. They should look at the school environment and be sure that the school is appropriate.
``We are not saying that every parent must send his or her kid to public schools but if you must go to private schools, ensure that that the private school is approved by the government and that the private school has qualified teachers.
``We have noticed that most private schools don’t hire qualified teachers, therefore, it is important that parents should know what is going on in the schools that they have sent their children.’’
The state government shut 83 private nursery, primary and secondary schools in the state in 2011 for not meeting the quality standard set by it.