Finally, members of the House of Representatives have decided to do what they should have done a long time ago, which is, look into the oddity of foreign schools demanding that parents pay their wards’ fees in foreign currencies. What these schools do is to calculate their fees in their home countries’ currencies. They out rightly reject offers from parents to pay the naira equivalent.
Curiously, most of the patrons of these schools are the elite of the country, some of them in government and who know the implication of foreigners rejecting the country’s legal tender. In broad terms, that is what it comes to when they insist that parents either pay in the foreign currency or take their wards somewhere else. Instead of calling the bluff of these school owners with their warped imperialist mentality, these parents capitulate to the obvious blackmail intended to throw it in their face that they brought their wards to the so called ‘international ‘schools because the nation’s schools are in shambles.
This has been going on for a long time unchallenged to the point that these schools, which only claim to quality in terms of standard is that they have attached to their names the appellation ‘international.’ The owners of these schools have become dangerously activist in their methods daring the authorities to do their worst. They carry on in a manner that suggest that Nigeria is a country without laws where anyone can come in and conduct his or her business as they deem fit and get away with it.
The major culprits in this bizarre scenario, in our opinion, are most of the schools that come from Europe and America. The Asians, too, have joined this roughshod ride on the nation’s educational system that is also beginning to be a drain in the country’s foreign reserve.
But if it is only school fees, it would been barely tolerable. The most disturbing aspect is that the curricula of these schools have scant regard for the interest of the Nigerian environment. They actually cast aspersions on the nation’s educational system. The intellectual content of the subjects they introduce and teach to Nigerian children are not only alien to our socio-cultural milieu but also are irrelevant to the Nigerian educational demands, aspirations and expectations.
The House of Representatives is taking note of this development now because they are among the elite in the country that put their children in those schools as a status symbol, to show off. They are beginning to feel the pinch as a result of the scarcity of the foreign currencies which has made it a challenging task for them to afford the dollar and pound component of the fees.
Their complaint really is not that the fees are in foreign currency but that the value of the fee is based on the black market rate of these foreign currencies. Our interpretation is that it would have been okay if they had access to the foreign currency at the official rate and be able to sustain their ephemeral been-to inclinations. Since they are the movers and shakers of the country, they deserve the best for themselves and their children regardless of the implication of their taste and ego massaging on the country as a whole. That, in our view, ought not to be the attitude. We had expected them to rise up and legislate against the unwholesome behaviour on the part of these school proprietors who denigrate the nation’s educational system and also put down our currency in the process.
It is important that the government take up, as a matter of urgency, plans that will refocus the nation’s educational system and make it comparable with the best anywhere and thereby make it impossible for educational mercenaries to foist themselves on the nation with the sole intention of taking undue advantage of the average Nigerians who also want the best for their wards.
We are by no means campaigning against contributions by foreigners to the development of the educational sector. Our argument is and will remain that whoever is interested in investing in that all-important sector must be minutely monitored to ensure that the interest of the country is protected at all times. It is certainly not an all-comers game to the extent that the rules will be flouted in the guise of foreign participation in the intellectual nurturing of our children. They are the future leaders of the country. The nation must be worried when they are being exposed to the machinations of those whose only interest is pecuniary at best.