By Amaka Abayomi
The calendar may still say August, with parents and children still in holiday mood. But it’s never too early for parents to start preparing for the next school year, especially as saving for ‘back-to-school’ may take a back seat right now.
As a new school year draws nearer, many unprepared parents may end up scrambling to find the funds to ensure their children remain in school but “school expenses should be planned to make wards’ return to school smooth,” says the Principal, Caleb International School, Magodo, Lagos, Mrs. Julie Falodun.
Vanguard Learning sought the opinions of parents, school administrators, book and school uniforms vendors on the importance of early planning.
Caleb principal, Falodun, said getting a new school year off on a good start can influence children’s attitude, confidence and performance socially and academically.
“Early payment of school fees and general planning for the children help prepare them mentally for the new school term. Though some parents have paid their children’s school fees and bought the required books, I still advise those who are yet to do so to plan ahead to make their return to the classrooms smooth.”
A school administrator, who declined to have her name nor that of her school in print, advised parents to plan ahead, especially as it concerns school fees so that they don’t end up cash-strapped when schools resume.
The administrator said; “With the number of financial products and information now available, it’s not hard to set up a little investment for children. Aside that, parents should start saving for the next term the minute they have paid for the current term.
“Depending on how much the fees are, it is good for parents to make monthly contributions towards that so that the total amount doesn’t seem so daunting.”
Though the transition from summer holiday to classrooms can be difficult for both children and parents, getting the school supplies such as uniforms, books and other needed materials early not only puts you one step ahead, but saves you the stress of last minute rush and shortage of supplies from bookstores and school support suppliers.
A visit to different book and school uniform stores across the country by Vanguard Learning revealed that parents were still shopping in trickles.
The operators urged them to take advantage of the early season and avoid hike in prices of these essential school materials.
“They are coming in their trickles,” said Mr. Chibuike Okeke, MD, Book Affairs Educational Services, Port-Harcourt, Rivers State.
Attributing the low patronage to private school operators, who prefer to sell books in their schools, Okeke, however, called on early shoppers to avert a hike in prices by buying their wards’ school materials on time.
Agreeing with him, the MD, Almaz Bookshop, Mr. Adebisi Saliu, added that some publishers have increased the prices of their books before now, while others are planning to follow suit.
“It is always advisable for parents and guardians to shop early for the next school year so as to avoid rush and unnecessary increase in the prices of school books when school resumption draws nearer.”
Legsapparel, an Abuja-based uniform manufacturing outfit, is also experiencing low patronage as parents are still in summer mood.
According to its MD, Mrs. Ola Eteng, “though some parents have started preparing for their children, we are yet to experience the kind of patronage associated with near-resumption time.”
Some parents who spoke with Vanguard Learning said though they know the importance of planning ahead, especially if it concerns their children’s education, blamed their short-comings on the economy.
A parent, who simply gave her name as Shola, said: “The harsh economic times and other monthly bills often just take away from what you would have saved.”
However, Mrs. Chidinma Egbe, whose son’s fees is N80,000, books N28,000 and those of her daughter is N16,000, is neither fazed nor in a rush to pay the fees as adequate arrangements have been made towards her children’s education.