The schools force parents to buy books from them.
Booksellers in Asaba have said that private schools in Delta State are preventing them from making lucrative sales, especially during the beginning of a new academic session.
The booksellers at the popular Ogbe Ogonogo Market and many other bookshops in the state said the low patronage they faced was caused by a new policy in private schools in the state, which made it compulsory for parents to buy books from the schools.
One of the booksellers, Eze Nwamuo, said the policy affected their businesses as parents no longer patronised bookshops at the beginning of the new academic sessions; rather, buying the required books from the schools at very high prices compared to what is obtainable in the market.
Another bookseller, Okafor Nnadi, confirmed that patronage had dropped. He warned that if the situation persisted, many bookshops in the state would fold up.
“The schools have now turned into bookshops and I wonder whether it will not have a negative impact on the school system,” he said.
A parent, whose ward attends a private school, revealed that the schools charged parents for books every session. She described the situation as exploitative, pointing out that textbooks used in the schools were changed every year to prevent the children from passing them on to their younger ones.
“This, to me, is the height of exploitation and if government does not check this, they will one day force our children to buy lunch from the schools,” the parent said.
Another parent, Okonofua Ediri, confirming the complaints, said she could not remember the last time she went to a bookshop to buy books for her children, as the schools now supplied them.
Mrs. Ediri urged the schools to give parents the choice of whether to buy the books from them or in the open market.
The Headmistress of Epic International School, Asaba, Ijeoma Ogoegbulem, said that the policy was instituted to ensure the uniformity of the books used in the school. She said that most parents ended up buying different brands of books in lieu of the ones specified by the schools.
Ms. Ogoegbulem also said that the policy would put those selling pirated books out of business, as majority of the schools purchased the books directly from the original publishers.
A staff of Lumen Christie Primary School Asaba, Chika Obi, defending the actions of the schools, said it was in the best interest of the parents.
She also said that parents and guardians now found it easier to pay for the books at once rather than going around markets looking for them.
A Special Assistant to the Delta State commissioner of Education, Kingsley Obielum, told PREMIUM TIMES that there was no directive from the ministry mandating schools to sell text books to students. He said many of the private schools in the state take directives from the ministry only to go back to their schools to do otherwise.
“The ministry gives them directives of what to do and what not to do in their various schools but you find out that when they go back to their schools they do another thing,” Mr. Obielum said
He also stated that he saw no reason for parents to be compelled to buy books from school, especially when one of their wards already have the same books. He advised aggrieved parents to complain to the Ministry.
“The parents have to take it up, report to the ministry. The inspectors that go to these schools always make sure they get information from the students and pupils but because they are afraid they’ll always tell you that they are okay with the school,” he said
Mr. Obielum, who said he only handles issues relating to tertiary institutions, however, promised to investigate the issue and get back to PREMIUM TIMES.
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