As primary and secondary schools across the nation resume for the 2022/2023 academic session, parents are lamenting the decision of many school owners to hike the fees payable by each pupil.
In the face of the current economic hardship, Saga Gist reports that there is an increased cost of textbooks, uniforms, sports wear and others.
In most schools, parents complain that they are not allowed to get the books or uniforms elsewhere, rather they are mandated to buy same from the schools immediately the pupils resume.
Parents and guardians, who spoke with our correspondent, said they were contemplating changing their children’s schools because of their inability to raise the school fees charged.
There are some who maintained they may take “the worst decision” by taking their wards to government-owned schools, saying they (the parents) also attended public schools.
“I am just coming from my grandson’s school. He is in Primary 2. They told me that the books he would buy is N28,000 and we are to buy from the school at once. That’s too much. The school fee has also been increased from N15,000 to N25,000. It seems these proprietors are not considering the nation’s economic situation at all
“I don’t know if he will resume school on Monday. I may consider taking him to an affordable one or worst still, to a good public school,” Alhaja Memunat Agboworin, told our correspondent in Sagamu.
Mr Seyi, a media practitioner said parents were the ones to decide what is affordable for them, saying he would never be forced by any school to buy textbooks from it.
According to him, parents should be given the list of books and should be allowed to buy the books anywhere they want.
Seyi posited that “selling textbooks is not anything wrong, but it must not be done to extort the poor parents.”
The father of three advised parents to enroll their kids in schools they can afford instead of trying to impress the society.
“Parents need to wise up these days, many of us also like to ‘belong’. It is better for me to take my wards to a school where I will pay their fees without stress, financially.
“I can’t take my wards to schools where we’ll pay through our noses. Those proprietors are not showing mercy at all. I will first of all ask questions before enrolling my children in any school. My daughter got admission into a popular public secondary school in Abeokuta. I was given the list of books and they invited the publishers to bring their books. I went to Sapon to price the books. At the end of the day, I bought those that are cheaper and those I can’t get at Sapon from them. I headed to Sapon to buy the rest. You won’t believe the price difference is in thousands of Naira.
“Parents need to cut their coats according to their clothes and proprietors should consider the parents before taking decisions that have to do with money,” Seyi stated in a chat with our correspondent.
In his words, Ibrahim Osho recalled when parents would be given the list of books to buy, saying schools nowadays were after making money at the expense of poor parents.
“Unlike in the olden days when parents were given a list of books and samples of the school uniforms to purchase and sew them wherever you like, things have changed now.
“I still recall when I first entered Overcomer Nursery and Primary School Ijebu Ode in the 90s. I was taken to one Ogunde Bookshop to buy textbooks and taken to New Market to buy a sample of the uniform. But now, every school is after making money, all because the system isn’t helping them,” Osho posited.
Speaking, a mother of one, who identified herself as Aina explained how her daughter’s school sent her the amount to pay for the first term, tagging it as the ‘New Bill’.
In a copy of the new bill made available to our correspondent, an SS1 student of the secondary school located at Ibadan (name withheld) is charging N147,000 for the term.
According to the bill, the tuition is N60,000; the list of books is N52,000; two pairs of uniform, N13,000; sport wears, N8,000; Thursday wears cost N2,500, while Friday wears cost a sum of N2,000.
Also, each pupil is expected to pay N3,500 for laboratory; N3,000 as development levy; N2,000 for maintenance and N1,000 for a necktie.
It was gathered that most parents are not finding it easy to raise money to foot the new bill.
No school fees, no entry
Meanwhile, some schools have warned parents not to bother bringing their children for resumption if they are yet to pay the recommended fees.
In most of the private schools, security guards at the gate have been ordered to ask for evidence of payments before pupils are allowed into the premises.
Sharing his experience, Mr Citizen Nagazimab, said, “My kids’ school sent a text telling us about an increase in school fees. ‘No be that one pain me’ because it is understandable, but the subtle threat that the fees must be paid on or before resumption, ‘pain me well well!’”
Our correspondent gathered that the trend has extended to private universities, as they now ask for receipts before allowing students into their campuses.
It’s not our fault – School proprietor
Meanwhile, the Proprietor and Principal of Perfect Assurance Academy, Ilaro Ogun State, Yinusa Babatunde, has said the increase in school fees should not be blamed on school owners.
In an interview, Babatunde said private schools were meant for those who can afford it, asking the government to reform public schools.
He said most proprietors obtain loans in order to meet up with standards, saying the economy is not friendly with proprietors too.
“Our major challenge is funding. School business is a serious business that requires much financial involvement. In order for us to meet up, we go into loans with exorbitant interest rates. All these are done to be able to fit into the business appropriately. Another angle is manpower. Many are not ready to teach as they prefer other self-sustaining jobs to teaching. High debt rate from parents is the peak of it all,” he said.
Asked if these were the reasons parents were being extorted by schools, he retorted: “We are not extorting parents. What happened is that the high cost of production of educational materials as a result of foreign exchange is not helping the schools. As for the uniforms, schools are trying their best to package their business and those attires and packages being introduced make them special and different from their peers. Whoever says education is too expensive should try ignorance.”
On why textbooks are sold at high costs by schools, Babatunde explained that, “Majority of the books sold out there are pirated. Kindly make a visit to those publishers’ offices and compare the books with the ones sold in the market. Majority of the schools collect these books on credit from the publishers. We return the money after the sales. Without doubt, piracy is making publishers back out of the business of publishing.
“Those books are of different editions. How do you know the one the school is using if you don’t buy from the school? Again, those pirated copies are poorly printed with bad pictures. This affects the learners whenever they are using the books.”
In his request to the government, the educationist urged that, “Government needs to be sincere with education. No quality service can be free. Proper monitoring of schools is important to put us on our toes. If public schools are well structured, private schools will benefit from it. It will reduce the crowding in private schools. We need people and not crowds. Private school is for those that can afford it. Now, everybody sees us as the only means to qualitative educational services.
“That is why I said the government should put public schools in order. It will reduce the pressure from private schools.”
Advising parents, Babatunde charged them to endure and cut their coats according to their clothes.
“Parents should not enroll their children in schools based on status or popularity of the school, but rather on what they can afford,” he submitted.