Chidimma C. Okeke (Abuja), Lubabatu I. Garba (Kano), Christiana T. Alabi (Lagos) &Victor Edozie (Port Harcourt)
Many private primary and secondary schools across the states have increased their fees ahead of the new academic year.
However, parents whose wards attend private schools are worried, with some of them contemplating relocating them to public schools.
Many of the parents said they have been notified of increments in school fees, feeding, transportation and cost of uniforms.
While some parents said that it has become a norm for most private schools to increase fees at the beginning of every session, some schools said the increase was with the consent of stakeholders who also acknowledged the prevailing economic situation occasioned by rising inflation and deteriorating value of the naira.
Findings revealed that some schools have increased their fees by between 30 and 50 per cent.
It’s unbearable – Parents
Many parents in Abuja, Kano, Lagos, Port Harcourt, and other states lamented the increase in school fees of their children in private schools.
Some of them said if public schools were functioning well, they would have no reason to take their children to private schools.
Abdullahi Usman, whose two children attend a private primary school around Life Camp in Abuja, said, “The increment is appalling. We used to pay N200, 000 per child per term in primary school but it is now N280, 000. This excludes uniforms and books.”
Jeniffer Samuel said the fees for her four-year-old granddaughter who is going to nursery one is N170,000.
“Her father would also have to buy uniforms and books from the school…It is sad because they don’t allow parents to go to the market and buy uniforms. They make a lot of fortune from it.”
Asked why she will not take the girl to a public school, which is free, Jenifer said, “We all attended public schools during our days but the dynamics are different now. This is the truth; if you want your children to excel, you have to pay heavily for their education,” she said.
Another parent, Mr Kelvin Oji said her children’s school increased fees by 25 per cent for the new session.
“I didn’t even go through the paper to know why they are charging because it has become a norm, they always increase fees.
“The last two sessions recorded 10 and 15 per cent increment, but now they have raised it by 25 per cent,” he said.
Abdulkadir Abubakar, a trader in Kano and father of three, said that the increment was meant to exploit parents.
“I don’t see any reason why the schools are increasing their fees; there is nothing new about their service to our children to warrant any review. The state government or the school regulatory agency should come to our aid.”
For Malam Aminu Ibrahim, a civil servant, private schools were becoming business ventures that the owners use to exploit parents.
Alhaji Ado Sale, a businessman, said that he was considering enrolling his children in public schools because of the arbitrary increase in fees in private schools.
Malama Hadiza Ali, a widow who has four children in private schools, said: “Apart from school fees, I have so much on my neck, like feeding, rent and so on. I am thinking of enrolling them into a public school instead.”
In Lagos, a banker, Mr Lawrence Olu, lamented that school fees take the highest portion of parents’ annual income, it had reduced the standard of living for households.
“My son’s school has increased the fee by over 15 per cent. I have decided to withdraw my son from the school because I cannot cope.”
Another resident of Lagos, Uncle Sam said the economic situation of the country is making life difficult for him, despite being a salary earner.
“Sincerely, this is not going to be easy for parents because even the summer lessons fees were increased above 50 per cent compared to what we paid last time. We understand the situation of the economy but most of these schools are taking advantage of the situation to exploit parents,” he said.
A Vulcaniser in Ikeja, Mr Waheed Shamsudeen said he will withdraw his four kids from a private school they are attending because of increased fees.
“Though I promised my wife before she died that I was going to do all I can to give the kids a good education, at this point, I can no longer cope with high school fees.”
A parent in Port Harcourt, Onyeka Imeadi said, “We used to pay N30, 000 but the management of the school wrote to inform us that the school fees will be increased to N50,000 from the next academic session.”
‘No salary increase for teachers’
Checks by our correspondents showed that most of the schools have no plan to increase the salaries of their staff members.
A teacher in a private school in Oyigbo, Lagos said the management of the school is using the economic situation in the country as an excuse to hike the school fees.
“Some schools are hiking the school fees, but they are being selfish because the increase has not in any way extended to us the teachers.
“They have increased fees in the school. I teach in, using the economic situation as an excuse but I want to let you know that my salary has remained the same without any increase,” he said.
Khamis Aliyu, who teaches in a private school in Jos, Plateau State said he is looking for another job.
“I am a graduate but I get N25,000 as salary in the private school I teach. This is not enough to buy grains for my family for one month.
“We are humans, we deserve empathy. We pay for food items, electricity, transportation, house rent and school fees for our children, among others.
“Private school proprietors are greedy. Our counterparts in public schools earn more but ironically, parents take their children to private schools,” he said.
Sadiya Musa, a 300-level student of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, said she is paid N9, 000 in the private school she is teaching in.
“I have been teaching since after I finished my diploma. I continued to teach even after I got admission for my degree programme but the take-home pay is not really encouraging,” she said.
Inflation behind increase – Proprietors
The Chairman of Voyage International School, Abuja, Yussuff Oriyomi said they did not increase school fees but slightly reviewed the cost of feeding, transportation and uniforms.
He said the increase is by about 20 per cent for obvious reasons, as costs of food commodities keep increasing weekly.
“We import the uniforms from the UK and we all know what the exchange rate is today; so we have to adjust our charges.”
A proprietor of a private school in Rivers State, Lotanna Agbai said given the economic situation in the country they have to increase the school fees.
“If you look at the present economic situation in the country, you will find out that things are getting out of hand. We have to make little adjustments to see how we can take care of the cost of running the school. We have staff wages to take care of and we also have utility bills to pay. These are the factors we put into consideration before we come out with the little adjustment we made in our fees,” he said.
A school proprietor in Kano, who doesn’t want his name to be mentioned, said the issue of high fees in private schools was not new.
“Any parent who sends his children to private school should know that he/ she would have to pay more. So it is voluntary. That is why the schools are called private schools, private arrangements. When you say private school, you expect all facilities to be up to date, functioning with experienced staff.”
Another school proprietor, Hajiya Aisha Ahmad of AlHidayah Academy, said that the fees were increased due to the inflation in the country as private schools were involved in running so many things which needed money.
Many of the proprietors, however, said the increment in tuition fees might not necessarily translate to an increase in the salary of teachers.
They said the increase was meant to cater for the day-to-day running of the schools.