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Special Report: School resumption brings little cheer as high cost of living muffles excitement

Ahead of the new academic session, many private secondary schools in Nigeria have also increased their school fees in the light of the new economic realities, leaving parents and guardians at the tail end of the skyrocketing school fees.
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Parents and guardians would struggle to send their wards back to school as the ripple effects of petrol subsidy removal take a toll on their wallets forcing some either to take their wards out of school or consider cheaper ones. The petrol subsidy removal means that the market forces of demand and supply determine pump price without government’s interference. Petrol prices have moved from N194 to N590 since May 29, representing over 200 percent increase.

The fuel subsidy removal which has led to an astronomical hike in fuel price, has affected the price of other essential goods and services, including food items, transport fare; school owners and parents are not left out. While the widespread anger, frustration and uproar continue across the country with Nigerians figuring out means to survive, the Federal Government on Friday, July 23,2023 announced an upward review of tuition fee of all Federal Government Colleges, (FGCs), also known as federal unity colleges from ₦45,000 to ₦100,000.

Similarly,ahead of the new academic session, many private secondary schools in Nigeria have also increased their school fees in the light of the new economic realities, leaving parents and guardians at the tail end of the skyrocketing school fees.

Parents and guardians consider low cost schools

Nofisat Emmanuel, a house wife in Lagos and mother of two children expressed the shock she got during the announcement by the school her children attend. She believes that many schools may shut down or parents will take their children to low cost schools because of the new school fees that many parents won’t be able to afford.

“My children attend Learning Gate, Ilupeju Lagos, a Montessori school for young children. We struggle to pay their school fees, I mean our children because of the high cost of living in Lagos and at this particular period, we are trying to secure a new accommodation nearby. When I discovered the school had increased their school fees, I just opened my WhatsApp messages and saw that the school group had been flooded with messages, every parent on the platform seems to be lamenting, the increase was high, it was like paying #100,000 and now to around #300,000. We are thinking of switching them to any affordable school around.”

Teniola Adeshina, a trader and mother of five children speaks with fury as she says her husband is already thinking of taking the kids to the village where he will be able to get a low cost quality school and a lesson teacher who will be able to help the children to catch up with learning.

“I am not happy with this hardship caused by the fuel subsidy removal or economic challenges. My husband is thinking of taking the kids to the village where he can afford a good school and get a lesson teacher for them. I am a trader and I sell clothes at Idumota Lagos. Making sales these days is super challenging and if not for my husband who is a Bolt driver we may have nothing to eat for days if he travels or doesn’t send money home.”

Teniola further explained that the growing cost of fuel is affecting the cost of living and schools are not left out in this economic challenge. She says her children will be moving to another school as the current economic realities cannot allow them to continue making payment.

A school owner and father of three, Emmanuel Adeniyi, founder Young Shall Grow primary school, Ogun state worries as increasing cost of living can make him close his school. According to him, the high cost of stationeries is another cause for alarm as affected parents may be forced to withdraw their children from school. “Here our school fees are affordable but the cost of books,school uniform, writing materials are on the high side and many parents may not be able to afford.”

What school owners are saying

School owners are lamenting that the high cost of goods and commodities is affecting everyone and as school owners running cost is affecting the continued running of their school. Schools around Lagos, Ogun and Osun have witnessed a hike in school fees as school fees are a way to ensure that schools are able to meet up with the increasing cost of living.

In a chat with five school owners, Edugist gathered that school owners are prepared as many parents already showed signs of withdrawing their children from schools due to the new school fee introduced. Festus, head teacher, Dee Excellent College, Lagos explained that the situation is beyond his control as the business must continue with or without resumption of some school children. He told Edugist that parents can decide to do whatever is in their best interests as the economic situation is unfavorable to all.

Akorede Salami, proprietor Oreofe nursery schools,Osogbo compared the current economic challenges to that of two elephants fighting and the grass suffering. He mentioned that no one seems to be considerate as far as the economic realities are concerned, everyone is trying to keep their heads above water.

According to him school owners are the grass as they are to ensure that educational activities are not stopped no matter the challenges. “As far as I am concerned no one is left out but for me school owners are going to bear the brunt . Let me give an example. Our school’s total population is less than 120 and during the holiday coaching we used to have more but this time we did not get up to 60 candidates.”

Awoyale Oluwafunmibi, headteacher, Highway College,Lagos raised pertinent questions on why parents must be careful as quality is expensive and that while they want affordable schools for their children they should not forget that quality education is not cheap.

“We are educational researchers and I personally have come to understand that the quality of education will reduce and we will definitely not be able to assure quality across board because of the current economic realities.”

She stated that teachers are already being sacked in their numbers as we speak and so many of them resigned because the cost of living and school fees are increasing, their salaries are not. “Although I want to categorically say that many parents won’t be able to afford school fees, especially low income earners, as Nigerians, we always find a way out of every problem.”

Peace, proprietor of God’s gift school, Osogbo lamented the movement of teachers and the risk ahead of the new session. She revealed that as a school owner she has limited resources and the current economic challenges leaves her no choice than to stop some teachers, especially assistant teachers.

“I cannot allow my school to close down I will only do the little that I can,I don’t want to owe my teachers that’s why I have stopped the assistant teachers around”

General overview

The high cost of living in Nigeria, largely influenced by fuel subsidy issues, has significant implications and consequences for various stakeholders.

School Owners: School owners are burdened with increased operating costs, as they need to provide electricity, transportation, and other services that rely heavily on fuel. Rising fuel costs can strain their budgets and affect the quality of education they offer.

Students and Parents: To compensate for increased operational expenses, schools may raise tuition fees. This places a financial burden on parents, making education less accessible for many families.

Reduced Quality: Schools may cut corners to save costs, potentially compromising the quality of education provided.

Teachers and Staff: Higher living costs due to fuel subsidy issues may lead to demands for increased salaries by teachers and staff, causing financial strain on school owners.

General Population: High fuel prices can trigger inflation, affecting the cost of goods and services across the board. This makes it more challenging for people to afford basic necessities.

Finding a balance between reducing the cost of living and ensuring sustainable economic and educational development is a complex challenge that Nigeria and its government must navigate.

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