The Deputy Chief Whip of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha has paid N9, 778, 850 million registration fee for 800 Senior Secondary School students who are eligible to sit for the 2021 May/June West African Examination (WAEC) in Isuikwuato/Umunneochi federal constituency.
Our correspondent who witnessed the handing over of dummy Cheques to the principals and senior prefects of the benefitting schools at the country home of the Abia-born lawmaker reports that Onyejeocha had last year (2020), paid the sum of N12, 450, 500 million for the WAEC fees of students of 14 schools in her constituency.
The 800 students that benefitted in this year’s edition of the lawmaker’s largess were selected from 17 public and 2 Missionary schools (where the lawmaker had her primary and secondary education respectively).
Onyejeocha who disclosed in an interview that she is also funding the studies of some of her constituents in some of the universities in the country said that the motivation behind her interest in funding the WAEC fees of her constituents is to help parents of indigent child or children pay for their SSCE examination fees.
The Abia lawmaker who restated that the gesture wasn’t for any political relevance, disclosed that she started her philanthropy as a private individual.
She said “I found out that many students of public schools do not participate in the West African Examination Council (WAEC) because they couldn’t afford the cost of WAEC fees. You know that the standard of living here is very poor. The economy is not too good.
“So many of the eligible candidates couldn’t pay for the WAEC fees because their parents or guardian couldn’t afford the money to register them for the examination, so I decided to pay it for them.
“It will be a wasted effort for somebody to spend all the years in secondary and when it gets to the time of writing an exam that will certify that the person has completed the process, the person will miss out because he or she could not afford to pay to be eligible to write the exam.
“WAEC is the foundation of everything that you are going to do educationally. You can’t even go to school abroad if you don’t have the relevant qualification. So, why will I allow my people to be dropping out because they can’t pay WAEC fees?
“I was impressed with the results of students that took the WAEC last year. The people that will always drop out are the intelligent indigent students. Most of these intelligent indigent students who sat for the exam made good grades and principals of their schools were happy that students wrote the exam.
“That was why we are continuing this year. In fact, the schools that didn’t have many students last year, have more students this year because people believed that their WAEC fees will be paid.
“I decided to pay for every student in public schools in Isuikwuato/Umunneochi Federal Constituency where I represent. The two schools that are not public schools: Isuochi Secondary School and Ovim Girls were my alma mater.
On the outcry of students over non-payment of their teachers salaries which has affected teaching and learning in their various schools, the lawmaker said “it has been there all these while. People go to school these days because they are determined, not because of any motivation from the government.
“You can see that the teachers that are teaching are those who have passion for teaching students and are passionate about their profession and so they go out of their way to teach these children. The inability of the government to pay the teachers their salaries will not affect the performance of the students (writing WAEC) because they know that this is the peak of their career and they must cross to either go to school or at least, earn a living.
“That is the motivation for all the students and teachers that I have seen and interacted with. But that is something to discuss another day. I just pray that the government should be very responsible to make sure that workers earn their wages.
“They should make sure that teachers are paid as at when due because if you don’t have an educated society, we will have a chaotic society.
“It might interest you to know that I also have students that I train in tertiary institutions, but it is not like a whole school. I have people that have graduated even with First Class through my scholarship and today, they are working in some of the federal government establishments.
“I have people on the scholarship who are in both Primary and secondary. They will be taken through the university under my scholarship programme.
“I started giving out scholarships before I became a commissioner in the state. It is a vision that doesn’t have anything to do with someone’s office. My prayer is for God to give me that enablement to continue doing this whether I am in or out of office. As long as the funds are there, I will still be doing this. I am not doing this for politics.”
Responding on behalf of the principal and students of the benefitting schools, the principal of Nneato Secondary School, Umunneochi LGA, Mr. John Ihieonu thanked the lawmaker for her intervention.
According to him, the second edition of the presentation of cheques for the payment of WAEC fees for students of Umunneochi/Isuikwuato federal constituency is an affirmation of the lawmaker’s love for education.
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He promised that the students will recompense her goodwill by making good grades in their WAEC examination.