Monday, September 12

The School Fees Cry!

It is (the dreaded) September. Children have returned to school today. Parents are broke again, and oh how they groan!
It’s incredible how fast things have changed; more, how drastic the change!
How has the cost of learning increased this much? Have you seen the huge amount of money being paid as fees?? In Nursery and Primary schools!The beginning of each term have become a dreaded and horrific time for some parents.  I remembered paying N25 per term in Secondary school. N25. Now it’s all tears and gnashing of teeth when September approaches. Parents are under such pressure it is incredible. I identify because I only have to close my eyes imagine its one of those times in my life when many things are happening at the same time and there seem to be no solution. So I imagine parents with 2, 3 or 4 children in primary school struggling to pay fees! How ever do they cope? I am finding this really painful fa. It’s sad and depressing. Is it a bad thing to desire good education for children?
Is it impossible to have free education, at least in Primary school in this country? Is that too much to ask? Primary education in France is compulsory and free; up to age 11, I believe. Cant our government do this one thing, make primary education free?? Cant someone do something?? Do you notice that the so-called big people who own schools only build them for other rich children? No one else can afford their fees. Cant someone build a school and run it at some cheaper fee? Just to help those who need good education but who are unable to afford it?
What I see today is parents limiting number of children because of ever-increasing challenges. Shouldn’t we ponder on this and do something?? How many families are going hungry for the rest of this September (or longer) just because  the children are on the path of a greater future?? I am so pained. How did it get so bad?? I feel like just building a school right now!
Should we consider home-schooling our children? I am scrambling for solution here! I doubt it would work though; the children will hate it because it means they are different from their friends, and may develop a complex as a result, the economic situation in the country will not even allow it;  both parents must go out to work early, and return really late; all for daily bread.
Abeg, help me. What is the solution? What is the simplest thing we can do (other than cry to the Government) to help this (education) matter? We are only talking fees o; I didn’t mention books, or uniforms. I didn’t say anything about Secondary or University oh. Do you see how ‘hopeless’ this ‘seem?’.
Dear parents out there, those of you who are groaning under the weight of providing  good and relevant education for your child(ren), God help you. May He see you through one step at a time. I feel you oh. I pray for my own children too oh! OMG.
Kai.
(How to) be free oh!

11 comments:

  1. It's proof of an economy that has lost focus on its priorities. Now it seems what school your kid goes to is more about status symbol than it is about what they learn. The saddest thing is that these schools where they pay millions don't do any better than the schools we all went to in our day, if anything they are worse because morals are out of the window. Who wants to discipline some minister's kid and their friends??
    The learning system is a mess, with different schools offering Nigerian, British and American curricula in any combination they choose. I guess that's supposed to be an added advantage??? Where in the world does anyone do that??? British schools offer British curriculum, French schools offer French curriculum except the school is designated as a British or American school and the relevant curriculum is offered there, not multiple.
    How can education be about being a wannabe? Dozens of our schoolmates and siblings schooled abroad and the Nigerian curriculum served them just fine, they were even better off in some cases.
    It's worrying really and what we need to do is look out for opportunities to help when we can, especially for the less priviledged.
    There are adopt-a-school programmes, there is Bethesda, an NGO building tuition free schools in poor neighbourhoods. These are the only ways we can create hope in a hopeless situation.

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  2. For me, the concern is for the poor and the less privileged in the society. Those poor kids that didnt ask come to this world to suffer selling boiled groundnut and pure water on these dangerous streets!
    It is incredible how the 'cost of school fees is the new contraceptive'.

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  3. One parent this comment:
    Her daughter return to school (SS1) without books because 'her school fees (which is borrowed) is too much'. They couldnt buy her uniforms. The poor child left crying. Can you imagine her embarrassment when she gets to class? Alone with no books? In the words of the mother: 'children have had to be put to a lot of suffering because of the economy of this nation has to be put through a lot of suffering and hardship'. Some of her other kids resumed this morning in their old and torn uniforms, worn socks, 'open' shoes and no books.
    This woman is beside herself with worry.

    Parents are sacrificing their children's fees because of so many other responsibilities. the fees are huge, but there are other things that also needs to be addressed in the home.
    This is such a huge deal. We cant let this just lie like this!
    Do you see the number of able-bodied young men and women on the streets?? Someone called them 'human resource that is wasting'...and its true. Able-bodied young men and women; the 'future' of our country. Pure water, recharge cards, handkerchiefs, groundnuts sellers.

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  4. I think its more about people trying to be what they are not.I agree that schooling has become more expensive but so has every other thing.
    Its easier for most of us parents to churn out 200k plus for each child to go on summer,but how many do u see complaining?we carry designer bags that will wear out and sunglasses that make us cry when they are broken but when its school fees time,we are groaning and moaning.
    Also,schooling has become a class thing.some parents believe that if their kids are not in certain schools,then they aren't relevant.
    Pls ask yourself,what do. Your kids actually get from all this british/american curriculum following schools?????I think its time we parents all do a self evaluation.
    As for me,I am very okay where I am and I have since realised that all the so called 'big' parents have started withdrawing their kids from some of this salary milking and foreign curriculum schools.
    IF U HAVE TO MOAN AND GROAN EVERY SEPTEMBER,CHANGE SCHOOLS

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  5. AND I FORGOT TO ADD,SACRIFICE THOSE BAGS,EXPENSIVE FONES AND DESIGNER STUFF FOR THE FUTURE OF YOUR KIDS

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  6. Me thinks parents are the biggest problems, our desire to make every conceivable issue a matter of status symbol feeds the monster fat. For these parents, the very thought of free education would be obnoxious and obscene. Nooo they have to find ways flaunt their ill gotten wealth and seek legitimacy via exclusivity. The only solution is a paradigm shift, where parents begin to insist that school fees must clearly demonstrate value for money. Parents must refuse to pay for marble laden halls, air conditioners in hostels / class rooms, designer uniforms and 6 course meals prepared by world renowned chefs … awwwww, what value do these items add to the quality of education which ought to be the primary concern of these schools? Unfortunately, the Jones cause the problem and the rest of us suffer, why? We ALL believe that unreasonable prices is indicative of quality…… awwwww…. Sad just sad, really sad

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  7. Loretta, I agree with you 95%. BUT...please don't knock a good structurally built place of learning because fees are not affordable. Give me marble laden walls to the disasters that litter our corner streets called Jakande schools where rain pours through the non existent roofs and there are no chairs or table to share between distracted and hardy kids. There is nothing wrong with comfort oh, but we need to make sure that the quality of the building reflects the quality of things being taught. I don't know about American/British/French curriculum (personally, I grew up in the formative years with British/American then went through the Nigerian process circa late 1980's to '93 and I am not worse for the wear), but if there were a standard educational policy where what is being taught is qualitative whatever the nomenclature, I think that is what parents should be fighting for. Alot of parents need to get together nationally and make their voices heard (and stand on what they want!) otherwise, we are going to continually hear of unhappy parents and even more messed up kids - education wise. Finally, to defend some parents, I don't think all of them want to show off their wealth just because...most people I know who have kids talk of wanting their kids to have a life and education they never had; so, bless their hearts, most of it is in good faith (albeit confused lol)...

    Cheers,

    Mary (Omo Jesu)

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  8. It's very easy to assume that people who send their children to "expensive" schools are just trying to keep up with the Joneses and that schools that charge an arm and a leg are simply greedy, and while I don't disagree that such realities exists, I think to make that generalization across the board is an over-simplication of the whole school fees/quality education scenario. Sometimes in life, you do get what you pay for and a good education can cost quite a bit though it also depends on what you call a good education (that's a story for another day).

    As someone in a management position at a private school, I can say that a school that makes millions also has to spend millions to make it function optimally. Staff salaries alone consume a hefty portion if you want to pay your staff (more than 30 in number including teaching, support and admin staff) a livable salary (and one teaching staff can earn anywhere from N40-N80k monthly on a starting salary as a nursery assistant depending on the school up to N250k for senior, experienced teachers not including the school's pension contribution and medical allowances). There are school buses to be maintained (anyone who owns a car should have an idea what vehicle maintenance entails), not to talk of generators (because our government doesn't provide anyone electricity so we all have to generate our own). We all know the cost of diesel and for computer labs, kitchen services and admin offices amongst others to run, electricity is needed and for a big school that has many buildings and operates at least a 40kva gen, the diesel bill runs into millions and that's without taking into consideration the maintenance of the generator. At the school I work at, we run our own water treatment facility and that takes it own considerable share of maintenance costs. Note that I've not yet mentioned teaching materials, other building maintenance, meals (at my school, we don't operate a tuck shop so the children don't buy anything; they're given proper food in the dining hall), taxes (and private schools do get taxed considerably because just like everyone else, govt too thinks private schools are money-spinning machines).

    I hope this has given everyone an insight into why some private schools cost so much. Even though I guess some don't have to cost so much, I'm not in their system so I don't know what their operational costs are specifically like. In the end for some schools, their fees are justified and for some others, the fees unfortunately are not. I guess each parent will decide that for themselves.

    Yes some parents would do well to cut down on some designer items so that they don't have to cry every September and January. My own parents lived very modestly and didn't treat my siblings and I to annual summers abroad nor did they do the costly socialite thing with its attendant need to buy aso-ebi and new clothes or new cars all the time. They stayed home, put their noses to the grindstone and worked (and made us work too - I'll never forget those weekends and weeknights doing homework and extra lesson with mommy and daddy even though they had full-time jobs and side businesses as well. God knows how they managed it without losing their minds) and by the grace of God, they were able to send us to private universities abroad as a result (the private secondary schools were not prevalent back then; we went to govt secondary schools).

    If people learn to prioritize wisely and with humility and are diligent in their application of these qualities, God will surely make a way and reward their efforts with success so that one doesn't have to cry (so much) come September.

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  9. @Anonymous at 9.38am: Wow! Thank you for this comments. I wish I knew who this is!
    Thanks for your clarification. I appreciate that because I believe most of us completely forgot the circumstances under which the private school is being run...harsh economic weather??! I want to believe that its because the govt made a hash of things with their own schools that caused individuals who wanted a system that is structured and works to start their own schools. And that is my focus is in the first place -The govt has not done what it should do. As someone commented on the Part 2 of this blog, we need a fixed policy on education. Why dont we have it?? Apart from high fees, how about strike? Higher institution students are out of school more than they are in school. People, they have destroyed the school system and have taken their children to school abroad. What is the solution? How many prayers can we pray? Why dont we have alot of other options?? Like I said, who has 'time' to home-school children oh.
    Hmm, so, even if I build a school now, the fees go still high. Talk of being between the devil and the deep blue sea! WHEEEWWW.

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  10. Hmm. The school fees cry! I paid N95 to go to University- every year for the 6 years I spent there. My little one's kindergarten fees per term very possibly covers my entire education. But I do not complain at all, I love his school, love what and how they teach and I have often been heard saying I wish I was educated there. I happen to be a realist. My government has not provided good education- whether free or paid. what was once good, no longer is so. The way I face this issue is the way I think all of life needs to be faced. Before a school was chosen, I decided what my values were: a good balanced, Christian education, a place where he'd not only get educated but get exposed as well as learn to think, not regurgitate and a place that where good and lasting friendships can be made. While I do not support using schools as a status symbol, I think one must be strategic about life- use Kate Middleton and Prince Williams as examples. My children will go to Harvard, Yale, Cambridge, MIT... if I have my way, its not a status thing, its because I want them positioned for global relevance. Whether they use those chances once there is up to them, but I MUST provide them- thats me! Having said that, I chose a school, I know in advance that September comes every 12 months. If the school fees is N12 (twelve naira), I save one naira every month, sometimes I don't get the bag I like, sometimes I don't travel where I want to on a whim because by direct debit that I can't withdraw from (all arranged with the bank- yes, its possible to have a no-withdrawal account on your instructions), the money for school fees is put aside. So when September comes, fees are paid, for the whole year, no less. And there is no cry. There is thank God for giving me work to do, for giving me the ability to plan. That if Nigeria has refused to plan for her future, I will plan mine and those of my children, so help me God.

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  11. Zouzou, I hear you on this school fees thing o! No be small thing really. On the one hand fees have gone up with the general increase in cost of living - the fees have to pay for supplies, teacher's salaries, diesel, interest on loans, etc; while also balancing with rate per child against number in the class. On the other hand though, some schools charge high fees to milk the rich as best they can, and to limit the class of people that get in. I remember the Administrator of my daughter's school saying that some lady came to make enquiries and when she was told how much (N120k to N200k per term depending on what you are paying for), she said that means that all these children of mechanics can afford the place, that she's not moving her kids there. Imagine!

    My take is unless the government provides real support, things won't change anytime sooner. In the meantime, parents have to plan themselves to be able to provide a decent education (academic + cultural + moral) for their kids in the society of today; and in such a manner that one parent can cope if the other one is not available or is unable to contribute his/her share.

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