• Warn Number Of School Dropouts May Rise
• Blame Subsidy Removal For Hike In Fees
• Lament Fees Increase In Govt-Owned Schools
• ‘Palliatives Can’t Douse Current Tension’
As primary and secondary schools resume nationwide for a new academic session this September, parents have expressed distress caused by the pressure they are grappling with in their bid to send their wards back to school following the hike in fees and the prices of sundry necessary items.
Although the parents acknowledged that September of each year is always laden with heavy expenses associated with school resumption, they lamented that the removal of petrol subsidy barely three months ago by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu immensely contributed to their current ordeals.
A tricycle (keke) rider in Asaba, Delta State, Mr. Jude Nwajei, told The Guardian that he would have loved to have the resumption date extended because “each time I remember the new fees I am going to pay for my three children in primary and secondary schools, and the fact that there’s no money for that yet, or in the nearest future, I feel I am not meeting my responsibility as a father.”
He lamented that the increase in fees came at a time his income was dwindling.
“I am a keke rider and since the increase in the price of petrol, the number of passengers has reduced and we have to spend more for petrol for the same distance, whether it’s full load or not. Now, I don’t go home with the kind of money I used to make in the past before the removal of subsidy.
“Upon that, schools have increased fees and the cost of books and everything about school has gone up. Many of us cannot send our children to school again. Some parents are thinking of changing their children’s schools, to take them to where school fees are less, though the quality may not be too good. The number of school drop-outs will increase and we hope this does not lead to increase in crime in the country.”
A parent, Mr. Marcel Echinile, said the subsidy removal was a big blow and had put unnecessary tension and pressure on him. He argued that the removal of subsidy by President Tinubu without putting any measures in place to cushion its effect was a serious setback to him and many other vulnerable Nigerians.
He said: “I was unable to pay school fees of my children last term. The school management would have sent my children back home because of the demonic removal of the fuel subsidy if not the understanding I had with the proprietor.
“School would soon resume, perhaps in two weeks time, I am only trusting in God to do miracle for the payment of my children’s fees. The unexpected fuel subsidy removal has really thrown me off balance in meeting the basic needs of my family.
“As I speak, I am planning to pull them from private school to public school, ditto other parents, to avoid unnecessary high blood pressure as a result of the satanic removal of the fuel subsidy.”
In Ondo State, parents disclosed that they were also facing mounting pressure due to the increase in expenses associated with their children’s education.
Recent stats showed that virtually all the primary and secondary schools in Akure, the state capital, increased their fees. The situation is more evident with schools that offer shuttle bus services and those operating boarding facilities.
For instance, some schools increased their fees by an additional N10, 000 to N35,000, while the bus shuttle, which used to cost around N30,000 per term, now costs as much as N83, 000 in most of the schools.
A parent, Mr. Wole Fadipe, who has two children in one of the top secondary schools in Akure metropolis, stated that he was yet to figure out how he would cope with the situation.
“My wife and I already knew that the school would definitely increase the fees, but we never thought that they would be this high. Do you know the funny thing the school did? We used to get the amount to pay for the following term on the last day of the term. But while we went to get the results of the children’s last session, we were surprised that the school did not include the fee to be paid for the next term.
“It was just last week that their class teachers sent the fees to be paid to us through a WhatsApp message. Those that I even pity most are those who have their wards in the boarding facility. It is just too high,” Fadipe said.
In Osun State, a parent, Olaide Olatunji lamented the rising cost of education, noting that everything is getting out of hand.
“My daughter’s school fees has increased from N40, 000 to N45,000. I’m yet to know the cost of books because we haven’t been given the list of their textbooks for this new session,” she said.
Another parent in the state, Seyi Adeniji, also said: “Everything is expensive; we are not happy with the situation. It is a very difficult period for me as a parent in this country. I have spent a lot of money on getting new things for my child in secondary school. Where do I start? The elder sister is also in the university.”
As a consequence of the hard times, the proprietor of a private secondary school in Ibadan, Oyo State, who pleaded anonymity, told The Guardian that there would likely be low turnout of students this term. “As you can see, only a few students are here for summer coaching because of financial difficulty being experienced by their parents. How is it going to be when the students resume new session?”
“Remember, they will eat. You need to buy food even for the one entering the university. So, even when my salary and that of my wife who is a civil servant has not increased by one naira since they removed fuel subsidy, our expenses have continued to stare us in the face. That is the way it is,” Nweze bemoaned. Mrs. Joy Chukwu, a mother of five, is frantically looking for another school for her children.