Okwelle stated this while speaking with journalists. He said the commission embarked on the “cleansing” exercise to protect the integrity of the Nigeria certificate in education (NCE).
The executive secretary said the commission discovered that some colleges were operating centres outside their state of operations without clearance and approval.
“In our first exercise ending 2022, we discovered about 160 illegal colleges and study centres. They are not registered and licensed,” he said.
“They had no standard. Nobody looked at colleges to approve and supervise them. So, we identified them. Some that were running illegal study centres.
“A college that approval was given to in Oyo state, has a study centre in Abuja. It is not peculiar to the colleges. Even the universities and polytechnics. We know about this.
“To be fair, it was an exercise that we took a risk. Our directors physically went to those remote places and identified them (illegal colleges). We did it such that we had very fruitful results. We first of all wrote to the government of those states.
“So, when our team go to a state, we report to the ministry of education in that state. The ministry of education in the state helped us to identify some. Because for you to establish a private college, you must have a consent letter from the ministry of education of that state.
“When we got the result and sent it to the minister, he asked us to take steps to close them down. So, the first step we took was that we wrote to the governors of each of the states – Bauchi even published their own because they had the highest number of illegal centres.
“They were all closed down. Some of them came to apply for proper licensing.”
Okwelle said the commission is currently conducting a revalidation of the colleges that were shut down to ensure that they have not resumed operation.
“Recently, we now had to go for another revalidation of the private colleges. In addition, looking out again whether there are other illegal colleges which we closed that have reopened,” he said.
The executive secretary said the exercise was concluded in December, noting that the results will be out soon.
“As I speak now, we are collating that result. When we collate, we will filter because it is a legal thing. You have to be very sure so that somebody does not take you to court. Once that is done, we assure you by February we will be sending our reports to the ministry.
“We have this record that many colleges don’t have students but we are seeing private colleges. What are they doing?
“We want to know. If students are not there, we might advise them to close down, unless they are using it for illegal business.
“I am sure that at the end of that exercise, some colleges might be closed down. The whole essence is to strengthen the certificate in quality of education.”
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