The increase in tuition fees by schools as a new session begins has thrown many parents into a nightmare. The hike in fees is coming at a time when disposable incomes of families are shrinking occasioned by the removal of petrol subsidies which has spiral effects on prices of goods and services in the country.
Some parents who spoke with BusinessDay recounted their woes.
One of the affected parents Eugenia Jukpor, a 39-year-old mother of three, told BusinessDay that one of her greatest nightmares has been how to raise money to pay for her children’s tuition fees as school resumes on Monday.
She said her three children who used to pay between N150,000 and N180,000 as tuition fees, are now to pay as much as N250,000 as tuition fees in the coming new school term.
She said the tuition of N250,000 for her three kids who are currently in primary school is aside from the cost of paying for the school bus, which has more than doubled with the removal of subsidy petrol subsidy.
According to her, if the cost of using the school is added to the fees, it will amount to N350,000 which is way above her financial capacity.
“Since three years ago when my husband passed away, I have been taking care of the children alone with the proceeds from the small business that I am doing. It has not been easy especially with the current state of things in Nigeria today. Business is no longer moving as before due to price instability as well as the high prices of goods and the profit margin has also shrunk for us who are doing business.
“It has become extremely difficult to give my children three square meals because of the skyrocketing food prices and the soaring inflation. We have not even talked about buying other school supplies and other things that the children need for school,” the Lagos-based business widow said.
Jukpor is not alone in the family challenges caused by the increasing cost of living crisis in Nigeria as Joseph Nnaji, a 45-year-old father of four, told our correspondent that the school fees of his children, three of whom are in primary school have been increased by the management of his children’s school.
Nnaji, an accountant, said he used to pay N40,000 per person as tuition fees aside from other payments, but the tuition fee has been increased to N45,000 per person showing an increment of N5,000 per person.
“Each of my children is expected to pay N80,000 for tuition and books, amounting to N320,000 for the four children. The pressure is killing me because there are lots of bills that are chasing the little income my wife and I are earning. The bills that one pays as a family man are piling up on a daily basis without the salary or the income increasing. My salary is not commiserated with the daily expenditure.
“We can only complain in our place of work without any result because our employer will say that it is by the grace of God that one still has a job as many companies are retrenching people leaving many out of jobs. The income is shrinking by the day, which is why one struggles to pay these piling bills,” Nnaji said.
He said that Nigeria’s economic situation is presently putting pressure on many people, which is why he will not blame anybody who finds greener pastures overseas by joining the Japa wave.
“Many people are leaving Nigeria following the poor economic decisions of the managers of our economy, which has ended up improvising many Nigerians. The Naira is weakening by the day and is almost hitting N1, 000/$,” he lamented.
Meanwhile, Adebayo Shoremekum, a father of three said he is also looking for money to pay over N5 million as tuition fees for his three children as the school resumes.
Shoremekum, whose two children are currently studying Engineering at one of the prestigious private universities in Lagos, said that each of his two children pays as much as N1.5 million as tuition while the remaining child in secondary school pays over N600,000 as tuition fees.
“I have to pay over N3 million as tuition fees for those in the private university and the school practically does not take instalment payment. In addition, we pay for the hostel and another school supplier, which is also on the high side. It is very expensive to have children in private universities this day because almost all your earnings are spent on paying their bills. I spend close to N1 million per semester to take care of their feeding, assignments, practicals and others.
“What can one do? We have to keep them there to avoid the interruptions and delays experienced in public universities occasioned by incessant strikes by the members of the Academic Staff Union of the University (ASUU).
“I was forced to pull my son out from one of the Unity Schools because the quality of life in those schools is way below standard. The tuition fee is subsided by the government, but those children come back with one infection or illness because of the poor living standard in those government-owned schools,” said Shoremekum, a Lagos-based banker.
He said that Nigeria’s education system starting from primary to tertiary education needs serious overhauling both academically and infrastructure-wise to reduce the rate at which parents take their wards to private schools.
According to him, putting children in private schools is really taking a toll on parents, especially in Nigeria today where inflation has reduced the value of Naira to nothing and reduced people’s purchasing power.