WITH UCHE NNADOZIE
This is not the best of times for most parents. The thought of school
resumption has put many of them on edge; most of whom carry about the
frustration like baggage. Kwara schools are billed to resume on Monday
and some parents have developed high blood pressure no thanks to the
high educational bills. It is common knowledge that education is
expensive in Nigerian; it has been priced out of hands of the common
man. Even government professed free education is not totally free as
schools and the Parents Teachers Association have devised means of
exploiting hapless parents.
The harsh financial climate has not helped situation, it is
underlining motive for decision of some parents to withdraw their
children from private to public school as school resumes.
For a family friend withdrawing her child from one of the ivy league
secondary schools in the state is the only option to remain sane. The
single mum has been losing sleep over exorbitant school fees of her
only son. According to her, parents are expected to make payment
before or on resumption and there is no room for instalmental payment
owing to trust issues. Although, she is aware of the effect of
academic instability on a child ocassioned by changing of schools, but
the cash crunch has left her with no other alternative.
There is also the sad narration of a boy, Rasheed, whose education
has been put on hold due to financial incapacitation of his father. He
was asked to repeat a class and believing that investment in his
education at a time like this is a wasteful venture, his father
enrolled him as a mechanic apprentice. Come Monday, he will not be
going back to school with his mates. Rasheed would only return to
school when the economic recession abates. Therefore, he keeps his
Stories abound of pupils/students whose aspirations for schools
resumption has been dashed for no fault of theirs. The economic
realities in the country has continued to take its toll on the ability
of parents to conveniently discharge the financial responsibility
their children’s education attracts.
To alleviate the financial burden on their parents some children took
up holiday jobs, proceeds from thereof to be used to augment what
their parents have for their fees and educational needs.
Even traders in school wares are bearing the brunt of the economic
realities. It is not business as usual. Gone are the days when
students resume in school in sparkling new uniform, socks, bags
etcetera, reminding me of my school days when we all appear dandy on
the first day of resumption. The smell of newness pervades the
assembly as we stand before the headmaster who gave us master strokes
on how to excel in our academics in his speech to welcome us back to
school. I could recall how my siblings and I had to make choices from
different brands of school wares when we go shopping for school
resumption. However, presently traders in school stuffs are
experiencing lull in business because most parents are faced with
knotty challenges. This, is no doubt trying period for parents whose
take home cannot take them home and as such some of them would be
forced to make desperate decision as regards their children’s
education. Even parents who are in the business sector are feeling
the heat as a result of low turnover.
The fees in private schools have continued to soar while managers of
government schools devise means of exploiting parents in the name of
levies. As noted by a colleague many schools have introduced
additional payments which are unprecedented in the annals of history
of Nigerian education. It is sad to note that school fees take a huge
percentage of family expenditure in the present day. The soaring
prices of books is one other issue that is driving parents crazy.
Unfortunately, the system is such that elder siblings cannot pass down
the textbooks to their younger siblings.
It is disheartening to know that education, which is believed to be
the best legacy parents can bequeath to their children is fast
becoming unattainable as a result of economic recession, poverty,
unemployment and other economic challenges confronting households. If
this challenges subsists for longer, the population of illiterates may
increase astronomically, which will not augur well for the
socio-economic wellbeing of Africa’s most populous nation. For this
reason, government at all levels, stakeholders in the education sector
must ensure that children do not suffer as a fall out of the present
economic crisis. The needful should be done so that educational career
is not truncated abruptly. Parents should be more than ever before
ready to make sacrifices to give their children qualitative education.
Illiterate parents we were told did it, the reason we have generations
of educated people. For no reason should the education and future of
our children should be compromised.