By Lola Omowaye
All over the world, education is seen as the passport to a better life and most Nigerians have made it mandatory for their children to get quality education that money can buy. And the believe that public schools are not properly managed, has made proprietors and administrators of private schools see it as an opportunity to charge exorbitant fees and levies.
Despite the improvements in infrastructure and manpower development in public schools, most parents are still of the view that private schools are better supervised with a relatively higher standard of education, less disciplinary issues, with improved facilities and better performance in public examinations These among other factors have led to the increased patronage, proliferation of mushroom private schools and extortion by private school owners. Now parents experience frequent hikes in tuition, cost of notebooks and text books, development fee, sportswear and uniforms, PTA fee ( even when no PTA meeting are held for parents to register their grievances and observations), end of the year party/ graduation, Christmas party, career day, among others.
As schools resume for the 2018/2019 academic session in Ondo state today, parents with children in various private schools have expressed concerns at the high cost of tuition fees school items. They also complained of being exploited by private schools through incessant increase in school fees, and expensive textbooks considering the economic situation across the globe.
One of the parents, a civil servant, Mr Adesina Adelusi who expressed displeasure over increase in tuition and expensive textbooks Private school fees is increasing everytime. Three sessions ago when I went to register my children in their school, I asked if the school fees would not be reviewed every term/ session and they promised that they would not but to my surprise, the following session they increased the tuition and everything. I managed to pay, it was debts upon debts. Now this session again the bill they gave us was just too outrageous. As a civil servant I wonder how I would cope to pay such amount of money for three children at a go. By the time I sat down to calculate all my salary for one year, it would not be able to pay my children school fees for this term. The house rent, feeding and some other things are there for me to attend to aside from the school fees. So I decided to take my children off the school to another place where I can conveniently pay for their school fees because I need to do other things apart from paying school fees.In as much as we desire quality education for our children, these charges are really very outrageous.’
Concerned about the frequent change of textbooks every session, he said: ‘The prices of the textbooks are much. In our own days the books our elder ones used we also used. They said they are introducing Montessori but it should not be at the expense of the parents. We are not saying our children should not study in United kingdom or in British way but they should put us into consideration. They just came up with it, outside the consent of the parents. I believe we are all stakeholders as far as the school is concerned.’
‘ We want to appeal to some of the proprietors to always carry parents along in their decision making. We also want to appeal to the government because they are still the regulatory body to help regulate this. Last session, there was a book my elder son used and they insisted that the younger ones can not use it. They said we must buy another one even when nothing is wrong with it.’
A parent, who is a businessman, Mr Moses Johnson said ‘ In my children’s school, we have a fixed tuition fee. It does not change every now and then. The only thing we are contending with now are the books. The prices of the books are exorbitant, especially for the level of basic one, two and three. What we are expected to pay is far too much. For instance, my son going to primary four would be paying about forty five thousand naira for books only. It is like the schools are making money from the books.
‘I think they have this understanding with Publishers, where you cannot get the books outside except you go though the schools. Last term my son lost his Mathematics book, we went to all the bookshops in Akure we could not get it, we had to go back to the school. Those books you get at school, there is no way you can get them outside apart from some and if you tell them you want to get them outside is another war. Even the exercise books they give to it children, how much is it? If I buy a pack of sixty leaves of exercise book outside I know how much I would buy it but we know how much are they given it to us.
‘ School should reduce the cost of books. The textbooks are too expensive. Let them consider the parents. This money is not readily available and even to pay school fees you have to really hustle. I have three kids and I have to pay almost three hundred thousand naira this term alone, that is a lot of money. It is impossible for a child in basic one to use his or her brother’s book who is in basic three because they( Publishers) HAVE deviced a mean to make the kids to do their homework in the books. ‘
According to Mr Oluwagbenga Olasehinde:’ I am a parent with two kids returning to school today. Paying school fees now is so serious that I put all my trust in God. The difference between this session fees and THE previous session is so wide. In order to return both children to school now, I will be spending over one hundred and fifty thousand naira.
‘Nigeria is no helping compared with other countries that are paying bills for its citizens but here if you want good school, you have to put them in private school. Things are hard and schools would tell you they are using one curriculum from British curriculum,that they are not depend on Nigerian system alone, hence the increase in fees. We hope that government would do something about this. When you listen to parents who have four to five kids, you will know that paying fees is not easy at all.
‘ Previous term I bought a shoe for two thousand, five hundred naira but last week after lots of begging I bought it for four thousand naira. When you want to buy a bag, you cannot get the one of two or three thousand naira again, you will hear six thousand naira. Water bottle that we bought before for eight hundred or one thousand naira, I bought it for two thousand naira. Food flask that I used to buy one thousand eight hundred naira is now four thousand naira. If you want a very hot and big one, you buy at higher purchase amount. It’s so serious, may God help us’.
A civil servant, Mrs Josephine Oguntoyinbo said that prices of textbooks, writing materials, school bags and shoes have gone up compared to previous session, adding that the new method of doing assignments in textbooks has made it impossible for children of same parents to use same textbooks.’ Books are partially expensive based on the situation now in the country. What makes matter worse is that one child cannot use his or her other siblings books. I do not know why they review books annually or every two years. Assuming it is like before it would have been better but now we have to buy all textbooks afresh.’
Another parent, a businesswoman, Mrs Ifedayo Olotu,, said that the cost of textbooks and stationeries are quite high, stating that there is the need for parents to prepare for resumption by buying new school items if they can or manage the old ones that are still good.
Heads of schools and proprietors ruled out any form of profiteering, saying that the profit margin on books was quite minimal compared to previous seasons. The Head Mistress of Honest Kiddies Nursery and Primary School Oke- Aro, Akure, “Mrs Dayo Adelakun said ‘ We approached the publishers to supply us with books to assist the parents, so that they do not have to wait on long queues at the bookshops to buy their children’s books. We do not make buying of books from the school compulsory but it is compulsory pupils have books. We have not extorted any parent. Buying books in school makes it easier for parents to pay since they could pay half initially and balance up later. This is an advantage because when they go to the bookshops it is cash and carry. The purpose of school selling books is to make things easier for the parents not about profit making.’