BusinessDay

High cost of living takes toll on private schools

The high cost of living in Nigeria is having negative effects on private school owners and the cost of running the schools.

Elizabeth Ohaka, an educationist and owner of the Redwood Academy in Lagos lamented that the cost of running and maintaining schools has skyrocketed.

“Teachers are agitating for a pay rise while the cost of stationery, fuel, and other maintenance costs are increasing daily.

“We used to fuel the generator with about N8, 000 a week before and now for three days, we spend not less than N10, 000. It is really tough,” she said.

Ohaka told BusinessDay that the school is increasing its tuition fee by N5,000 but parents are kicking against it because of the high cost of living.

“We are in business and must find a way to stay above the water. Education is financially demanding, especially in a weak economy like Nigeria. Parents also know the situation and must be ready to bear with us,” she said.

When asked about the level of registration so far, Ohaka explained that students’ registration is low but added that she’s hopeful that more students will come with time. “Nigerians like rush hour registration, so, I’m expecting more people to come by the time schools resume properly,” she noted.

Similarly, a private secondary school at Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, decried the cost of feeding students in boarding houses. According to Blessing Ema, a teacher, a bag of rice last was at N20,000 and now it is sold for N38,000 which necessitates a rise in boarding fee. However, she said the school is yet to take a decision on that, bearing in mind the economic crunch parents are facing.

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“Many parents ask for quality education at affordable cost, hence, the issue of increment must be handled with care or else parents will begin to change schools for their children.

“We are only increasing the fare for a school bus from N25,000 to N30,000 because of the hike in fuel price. Besides, we are introducing a fee of N5,000 for entrepreneurial education, this is because the charges from our facilitators have gone higher,” she said.

Friday Erhabor, a parent with children in both secondary school and university shared his experience.

“The tuition fees for my child in SSS3 has been increased from N140,000 to N240,000, that is a 70 percent increase. They know parents may not want to move a child in exit class because that may affect his level of preparation for WASSCE,” he said.

However, a teacher at Multipurpose International School at Isheri-Oshun, a Lagos suburb, informed BusinessDay that though the cost of running a private school is rising, they are not going to increase tuition fee because they don’t want to lose their students.

According to Esther Alabi, many parents in the Isheri community are not economically viable, hence increasing the tuition fee might cause them to withdraw their children.

However, she explained that the school has resolved that parents will have to bear the rising cost of stationery, if they really want to have their children educated.

Mary Okonkwo, a certified TRCN teacher expressed her fear that the current cost of living is going to affect all levels of development, especially education.

“The numbers of out-of-school children will definitely increase because parents who will not be able to cope with school fees, will alternatively withdraw their children..

“And as more people are dropping out of school and with no meaningful employment, crime levels will increase. The gap between children of the rich and poor will widen

“Agitation for increase in salary and minimum wage will increase with attendant strike. It is also capable of truncating security. Even some private schools will shut down when they can’t cope with the cost of running the school,” she said.

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