By Dayo Adesulu, Tare Youdeowei & Kelechukwu Iruoma,
As the economic recession triggers a new type of migration of students from private to public school, some school owners have resolved to give 50 percent discounts to any parent who pays for a whole session, as against paying for a term. This is as some parents keep mounting pressure on school administrators to give their children double promotion to escape one year school fees.
Vanguard investigations revealed that as parents withdraw their children and wards from private schools, owners of some private schools have introduced attractive discounts to parents to curtail the unfavourable trend.
In one of the schools at Ipaja the offer was; if any parent can pay one year school fees in advance, he or she will get 50 per cent discount the following year.
For some schools, management has concluded plans to reduce school fees so as to appeal to the conscience of parents who might be thinking of patronise public schools.
The Proprietor of Tob Land Nursery and Primary School, Agege, Lagos, who did not want his name in print lamented that there were some parents who, due to the prevailing economic recession, have gone to owners of private schools seeking for double promotion for their children. Without counting the academic consequence on their wards, some parents have maintained that the double promotion will relieve them of the burden of paying school fees for a year.
His words: “Almost 75% of the parents are unable to pay their children’s school fees and buy books due to the recession. Some parents are buying half of the text books.
“The initial thought was to increase the school fees this term but I was unable to because of the economic challenges. Right now, parents have withdrawn their children to public schools. About 15 students from my school have been taken to public schools.
‘’Some parents are even trying to give their children double promotion and if you do not do that for them, they will take their wards to other schools, just so that they will not pay the school fees of the three terms they are supposed to pay.”
Dr. Shinaayomi Akintolure, Proprietor Stokhan Schools, Iyana Isashi, Lagos said; “As a result of the recession parents are beginning to take the option of withdrawing their children. About 10 to 15 percent are beginning to take their children to government-owned schools, not only because of increase in school fees but because even to keep the home front going has become an issue.
Shrink in population
“We cannot increase our fees. Maybe the highbrow areas can attempt it, but we here cannot.We really have a 10 to 15 percent shrink in the number of pupils, to public schools.”
Also, the Principal, Caro Favoured School, Awodi-ora, Lagos, Mr. Mark Okoh said; “Due to the economic recession, there is truly low patronage, if I tell you it did not affect us, it will be a lie. We still have not got the requisite amount of learners returning to school. Even the new ones that are supposed to resume are going to other schools, some public schools, others to more affordable schools.’’
‘’It has always been the system of private schools to tolerate parents who can’t pay the lump sum at once, but this year, parents paying in instalments have increased because of the recession.”
Suggesting a temporary solution, Akintolure said that school owners who really know their onions, need to take their eyes off solely making profit and just focus on educating the children. ‘’This is because you cannot sack teachers like banks sack workers. As proprietors we need to sacrifice about 40 to 50 percent of our profit, if need be, to ensure that children keep getting the best and we remain in business.” As Okoh pleaded with the government to look into the recession, turn the economy around so that all aspects of life will return to normal,’’ he added.
Mrs Gladys Adewumi whose three children attend Living Joy Nursery and Primary School, Ikorodu said she withdrew two of her children from the private school to public schools when it was apparent her husband could not cope financially.
She said: “I operate a beauty salon and my husband is a plumber. For over a year now my husband has not been able to live up to his financial responsibility in the family which led to our over N100, 000 indebtedness to the school.
“To reduce the financial burden, we agreed to remove two of our children from the school to a government school at Elepe.The challenge I may encounter now is the distance between our resident and the school which is about five miles,” she added.”
Meanwhile, the Proprietor of Dee-soar Nursery and Primary School, Ikorodu, Mr Samuel Ojo who lamented the devastating effect of the economic recession, noted that since schools resumed from vacation, many students are yet to resume. He said:, “Having had the foresight of the austerity, my staff and I went to parents, encouraged them and tried to instill hope in them. We will still go back to them again, because I know many are planning to go public school.”
Exodus to public schools
The situation was similar at Wiseman Generation School, Ikorodu. It’s Proprietress, Mrs Peace Omar, said that many students are yet to resume from vacation, adding that the situation was not unconnected to the recession. She said:”I know of a parent who withdrew her child to the public school. Because of the hardship, we have decided not to increase school fees, yet parents are not satisfied. The only time we added N2,000, parents complained.”
On his part, the proprietor of Gosfat Nursery and Primary School, Agege, Mr. Gosfat said, “The recession has affected every home. Most parents have withdrawn their children and wards and taken them to public schools despite the fact that our school fees is low.
“Last term because of the economy difficulty in the country, I reduced my school fess by N1,000. Yet, most parents still find it difficult to pay.
“The only reason they are giving me is that there is no money. We have the same market system. What affects the top affects the bottom. This new term alone, I have lost over 20 of my students as a result of the recession which has never happened before.