Just before schools resumption, I was at my child’s school to buy books and while I waited to receive them, a new parent walked in to make enquiries. As if desiring other parents to hear, she started talking loudly about her experience in her children’s former school and how her children were performing so poorly despite the huge amount she paid as school fees. Apparently frustrated, she said she was tired of the ‘eye service’ and was no longer interested in the nice environment and so called foreign curriculum, and having to pay through her nose for it all.
She isn’t alone. Over the years parents have continued to endure exorbitant school fees all because we want the best for our children, but not anymore as we live in desperate times. Last week, Vanguard Newspaper published a report titled ‘Recession: Schools Give Discounts on Fees’ and I was like, you’ve got to be kidding me!
The newspaper investigations revealed that parents were beginning to withdraw their children and wards from private schools to public schools as some of them could no longer afford to pay the fees. Owners of some private schools in the bid to check the unfavourable trend decided to introduce attractive discounts to parents. One of such offers was for parents to pay one year school fees in advance, and get 50 per cent discount the following year. Some other schools offered to reduce school fees so as to appeal to the conscience of parents who might be considering moving to public schools. Some parents chose to mount pressure on school administrators asking for double promotion for their children to relieve them of the burden of paying school fees for one year with a threat that if they don’t accept, they would withdraw their wards to other schools. I know a parent who has used this method to move two of her children from basic four (primary) to secondary school both schools belonging to the same proprietor.
Private schools allow payments by installments for parents who can’t pay the lump sum at once, but this year, it appears parents seeking to pay in installments have increased due to the recession. According to the report some school proprietors said the number of pupils returning to school is low as some have been taken to more affordable schools, some public schools, others still at home. But if private schools are offering discounts and a reduction in school fees could it be that the schools fees were unreasonably high in the first place?
Here’s a funny message making the rounds on social media on this:
This economic recession is no longer funny oo, see women pricing school fees “Aunty, how much if we remove Geography and Physical Education, I want him to become a doctor not a traveler. OK, what if he comes to school only Monday, Wednesday and Friday will you reduce it?”
Starting a private school in Nigeria became a very lucrative business for anyone who had an apartment to spare and some money to pay for Government approval. In a country where there is lack of adequate investment in education, dilapidated infrastructural facilities, poorly paid teachers and generally low standards of education, Government owned schools have been reduced to nothing, giving way to the rapid growth of private educational institutions.
Private schools in Nigeria in order to lure parents, especially those with deep pockets adopted foreign school curriculum, majority of them preferred hiring white expatriates as head or administrators of their schools, also international trips were included as part of school activities to make parents feel they are getting the same quality of education available outside the country.
Sometime ago I published an article I titled, ‘Can Your Child’s School Fees Buy a Plot of Land?’ Well, this excerpt taken from a report in the Vanguard newspaper of December 2015, titled ‘What Nigerian Private Schools Cost Parents’ answers the question:
Dowen College, Lekki, charges as much as N2,000,000 annually for a boarding student and N1,250,000 for day students; Atlantic Hall charges as much as N2,270,000 per student; Greensprings Schools charge over N3 million for boarding and almost N2 million for day students; Lekki British International School, Lekki Phase 1, charges $19,500 (over N4m) + N200,000 development fee; while British International School, Victoria Island, charge $26,750 + N200,000 annually for a student.
We tend to place higher value on expensive things here in Nigeria, and our children’s school isn’t any different. We look out for structures and how nice the environments are when making choices for schools. Private school proprietors are no doubt taking advantage of this as well as the lapses in public schools and are making us pay dearly for it.
The question is, are public schools really a good option, with environments untidy, collapsing buildings, lack of furniture, and unmotivated staff? Many would say provided our children are well taken care of in private schools and we can afford it, why not? But for the majority who can’t afford it, home schooling may be an option begging to be considered. Only time will tell.
What’s your thought?
Image courtesy: nigeriahealthwatch.