WITH JOKE ADENIYI-JACKSON
Monday, 17th September, 2018 schools in Kwara State will resume for a new academic session, after about seven weeks holiday. However, the mere thought of school resumption has put many parents/guardians on the edge. This is not unconnected with school fees, which has gone up astronomically despite economic crunch affecting most households. Many parents are losing sleep over high educational bill of their children. No doubt education is expensive in Nigeria. Even government professed free education in public schools is not totally free, as schools and the Parents Teachers Association (PTA) have devised means squeezing money out of parents.
With the present economic situation in the country, most parents find it extremely difficult getting tuition and ancillary fees of their children ready before school resumes.
The general harsh economic situation in the country has continued to affect 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.
Some parent have resorted to changing their children from higher priced private school to others offering lower prices inspite of the effect of academic instability on a child occasioned by changing of schools.
In worse case scenario, some parents withdraw their children from school. Such was the case of a boy, Rasheed, whose education was put on hold due to financial incapacity 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.
Nevertheless, it is pertinent for parents and guardians to prioritise their children’s education, in order to keep them in school and secure their future.
Parents should be more than ever before ready to make sacrifices to give their children qualitative education. For no reason should the education and future of children should be compromised.
Nonpayment or late payment of school fees has negative effect on students. They suffer emotionally and psychologically when sent away from school due to non-payment of school fees, which can take its toll on their academic performance. Needless say that it makes the students feel ashamed of themselves and of their parents’ inadequacies. And, being at home while they ought to be in school could expose them to social vices.
While many parents are weighed down by burden of school fees of private schools, there seem to be no other option as public schools do not offer the desired qualitative education. It is strongly believed that the standard of teaching and learning in public schools is below average, while private school will guarantee a future envisioned. It is on this premise that government must pay premium attention to the education sector towards addressing the situation by improving the quality of education being delivered in public schools. It will go a long way in boosting parents’ confidence to send their children and wards to governments owned schools.
It is however disheartening that teachers in both primary and secondary schools in the state have threatened not to resume on Monday, if the four months unpaid salaries being owed them are not paid by the state government.
That is not a good way to start off a new academic session in a state that the government is striving to raise standard of education. It therefore behooves the present administration of Governor Abdulfattah Ahmed to look into the demands of the affected teachers with a view to addressing it. Since teachers are key actors in the education sector, government must ensure good welfare package and conducive working environment to motivate them and put an end to incessant strike.
Nonetheless, the continuous extortion of parents and guardians by private schools in the state is a dangerous trend which must be checked in the interest of children and the education sector. It is disheartening that many people today see schools as one of the most lucrative businesses and as such devise different various ways of exploiting parents.
The state government through the Ministry of Education should hence provide the needed control. Adequate attention should be paid to private schools which cater for sizeable number of children in the state.