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Surging cost of living leaves parents in limbo as schools resume

Surging cost of living leaves parents in limbo as schools resume

Nigeria’s surging cost of living has left many parents in a dire situation as academic activities resume on Monday, January 9, 2023.

The situation has compelled some to embrace side hustles while others take up personal sacrifices such as selling viable properties, night jobs and denying themselves the pleasure to support their children’s schooling.

In 2022, Nigeria witnessed a cost-of-living crisis with inflation at 21.47 percent in November, the highest in 17 years and far outpacing wage growth, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) data.

Jonathan Isimah, a parent at Ajah in Lagos, told BusinessDay that he bought two pairs of school shoes for his two children at the cost of N36,000 as against N12,000, and food containers at N10,000 each which rose to over 300 percent compared to the cost in 2022.

Isimah expressed worries over the continuous rise in the prices of goods. For instance, he said his children’s school fees have been increased from N84,000 to N105,000 and N140,000 to N200,000 respectively, with an extra transportation fare of N60,000.

“This is indeed a challenging time for parents. Many parents will have to make do with what they already have,” he said.

Ejiro Pedro, a father of three, said due to the surging prices of school items, and his lean purse, he has resolved to cut down on his expenses to enable him to meet his children’s school needs.

“I have decided to sacrifice my lunch to save some money, besides, I will reduce my cable subscription from max to jolly, or even suspend the subscription for some time, but my children must have quality education, and standard meals without compromise,” he said.

Esther Ordu, a mother of one, lamented that inflation is taking a toll on parents and children.

“I used to buy an egg for my child’s breakfast at the cost of N40, but now it is sold at N100 increase, and my salary is not being increased to meet the challenge.

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“We are left with no choice but to adjust and this is a negative adjustment. It is unfortunate”, she said.

Akanbi Owolabi, a public servant with children in schools said he was shocked to find that the school bag he bought at N2,500 sometime ago is now sold at N5,000 (100 percent) increase.

Owolabi also complained that his children’s school fees which were at N10,000 last term is now increased to N15,000 (50 percent), besides the cost of transporting them to and from school every day.

“The cost of living is really biting but I have decided to embark on side hustles to cushion the effects as my salary cannot carry the load with other daily needs,” he said.

Gloria Michael, a mother of four, does not see reasons for parents to work-up over school needs being that this is the second term.

“Well, this is the second term. Children’s school needs are mostly attended to during the first and third terms. With the current rising cost of living, feeding is so much of a concern now.

“In terms of food, snacks, and fruits, the inflation rate is skyrocketing daily and salaries are not making sense anymore. We are cutting down on snacks but not on food and fruits,” she said.

Michael counselled other parents to simply wash the school bags and amend things that need amendment, and save themselves the stress.

Omobolanle Olarenwaju, a mother of two and a teacher, explained that though prices are on the increase, she has a strategic approach to getting her children effortlessly back to school every term.

“I always have pre-arrangement financially towards getting my children’s school needs at the beginning of every term. I always save towards that, hence, I don’t find it much hard to get going at a time like this,” she said.

Olarenwaju said workers in her school are already agitating for salary increase going by the surging cost of living in the country.

She said the school has already announced an increase in certain areas of management.

“There is a newly introduced examination and laboratory fee among others, which were not there before. For sure, parents are the ones bearing the brunt of this”, she noted.

Elizabeth Ohaka, the proprietress of Redwood Academy in Lagos, said the school will not be making any major increase in fees having slightly increased fees last term.

Ohaka told BusinessDay that the school would rather reduce the discounts it is giving for bus service due to the increase in fuel.

“Even though overhead costs have increased, we did not increase fees in the corresponding percentage. What we are doing is, we have tried to cut down on our expenditures to include only the most important items, so we can pass on the savings to our customers”, she said.