With academic activities set to resume in schools across the country, tomorrow, Monday, September 19, after the long holidays, some parents and guardians lament the very tight financial climate prevalent in the country. Michael Oche captures the mood.
After the long holidays, the moment most parents dread the most is finally here – school resumption. Even though this has been the tradition for parents, the prevalent economic realities in the country appears to have made payment of tuition fee ahead of new term resumption a herculean task.
For some parents, matters are made worse because this is new session (first term) and most kids have graduated from primary to secondary schools. As a result, schools, including federal government colleges are insisting that students must produce evidence of payment of all prescribed fees before they are allowed to resume school.
Some parents who spoke with our reporter expressed worry over the harsh economic situation, calling on school owners to have a rethink and extend payment deadline to at least end of September.
Checks by LEADERSHIP Sunday reveal that most parent are withdrawing their kids from expensive schools and taking them to less expensive ones.
Though some parents said they did their best to guard against being caught in this kind of condition, they regret that the present state of the Nigerian economy has taken quite a toll on their finances.
“Aside school fees, there is the issue of new uniforms, books and allowances, among others,” Mrs Ajayi Bukola told our reporter. She lamented that meeting these needs have been a source of concern, especially as recession bites harder.
She continued, “I have four kids, one is moving from primary to secondary while another is moving from junior secondary to senior class. And if you understand what the economy is saying, you will know its not a joking matter.”
Another parent, Gimba Hassan painted a grim scenario of companies downsizing and some state government unable to pay their workers as the country comes to terms with dwindling revenue from oil.
He said, “civil servants in some states have not been paid salaries. It is really a difficult time. And the worst is that some schools are increasing their fees. If with just two kids in school, I have this challenge, I can imagine what those with four kids are facing.”
LEADERSHIP Sunday checks further revealed that due to poor teaching standard in public schools, parents prefer to send their kids to private schools, which though charge higher tuition fee.
A financial expert, Yinka Samuel however, advised parents to cut excesses in school budget to ensure they do not go broke or risk the future of their kids. He said school supply lists can be quite daunting, urging parents to go through the list critically to know if the child needs every single item on the list.
He said, “Subscribing to the services of school bus has become very expensive with the increase in fuel costs. My advice is that you can talk to neighbours, whose wards are in same school or around your children’s to join forces and take turns with you in taking children to school. This saves parents money on fuelling their cars, especially if the school is out of town.
A parent, Mrs Oluchi Igwe while speaking to our reporter stressed the need for parents and guardians to plan ahead, saying planning is the key for avoiding such pitfalls.
According to her, even though times are hard, parents should never have lost sight of the fact that schools would reopen in the first or second week of September.
“Parents should learn to save for their children’s schools during holidays. This is important so that they do not compromise their children’s education and future,” she said.
Another parent, Yemi Akin while responding to question on the challenge of paying school fees for the new term said, “I used to pay my children’s school fees before resumption, now we are struggling to pay within the first month of resumption.”
She said the economic recession has affected her source of income. According to her, “Business has not been moving like before. Times are hard and people are now more careful with their spending.”
To ensure that parents don’t withdraw their kids, most of the schools are devising means to enrich their curriculum and encourage parents.
The proprietor of Global Academy Suleja, Mr Adeyemi Samuel told our reporter that the the management of the institution understands that things are not easy and that the economic issue is affecting all sectors of the country.
He said, “I can’t say it has because schools just resumed, and some parents believe activates won’t start immediately, so they don’t allow their children resume immediately.
“We have decided to have a meeting with all the parents of pupils in our school, and let them know that the school fees can be paid installmentally. We even devised a payment plan to make it easier.”
Another parent, Mr Ike Kanayo said he has no choice other than to withdraw his kid from their current school and enrol them in public school.
He said, I don’t have to wait to be disgraced before I withdraw them to government school. I have decided to leave the eldest in a private school because he would be going to secondary school in September. I can’t even afford a private secondary school for the other two.”