• Tuesday, November 28, 2023
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School fees increase puts financial pressure on parents

Mary Omisore, a mother of two living in the Okerube suburb of Lagos State, contemplates withdrawing her daughter to join her fashion designing business as school fees surge.

Omisore complained that she could no longer cope with the surging school fees and the high cost of living resulting from the subsidy removal.

“My daughter is in a secondary school at Ikotun, and just recently, I got a notice of an increase in the fee from N100,000 to N200,000.

This is ridiculous; where do I start from? The elder brother is in the university, and we are yet to know their new fee.

I will either register her in a public school, though against my will or withdraw her to join me in my business,” he said.

Read also School year relocations: Common pitfalls and how to prevent them

Similarly, Deborah Owoeye, a roadside trader in Ogun State, reverted to enrolling her children in public school because she could not meet the fee at the private school where her children were.

Alexander Amu, a civil servant, lamented the excruciating economic challenges prevalent to Nigerians these days.

“Every week, I spend more than N10,000 on transport from my house to Victoria Island because I cannot afford to fuel my car by the prevailing petrol pump price.

Yesterday, my wife informed me that my son’s school increased the fee from N50,000 to N130,000, excluding the bus and other concomitant levies. It is so confusing,” he said.

Amu disclosed that he would sleep in the office some days to reduce his financial burdens.

Many Nigerians are creaking over the surging cost of living, worsened by the subsidy removal over three months by President Bola Tinubu at his inaugural speech on Monday, May 29, 2023.

The economic policy reforms taken by the present administration have seen the removal of fuel subsidies and the floating of the foreign exchange rate. The naira has been on a depreciation spree against the US Dollar, hitting over N900 to US$1 in the parallel market.

The petrol price, which jumped from the previous N184 official pump price to more than N500, saw this price increase to N617 in some locations.

Read also Parents groan over hike in school fees as inflation bites

The present reality is that the N617 pump price is no longer sustainable as the landing cost of imported petrol has risen.

An immediate visible problem is the threat by the independent petrol marketers to increase the pump price of petrol to N750/litre as the landing cost of petrol has allegedly risen to N651.75/per litre, higher than the N617 per litre fixed by the NNPCL.

Christopher Obiora, a businessman at Balogun market, Lagos, said the reality of the high cost of living is that there is a multiplier effect on everything after school resumption, including school fees, books, uniforms, boarding fees, food and other items.

“I have a child in one of the top-notch secondary schools in Lagos; I just got a notification from the school that my child’s fee is now N1.2 million as against N500,000,” he said.

Obiora said he has cut down on some household expenditures and the frequent use of cars to reduce overhead costs in the family income.

“For now, no more birthday parties, no more going to eateries on Sundays, and other frivolous expenses in my home,” he said.

Undisputedly, crude oil export in Nigeria still accounts for more than 90 per cent of the foreign exchange revenue, making it the primary source of generating foreign exchange.

However, with production falling to just 1.081 million barrels per day (bpd) in July 2023 compared to the quota of 1.8 million bpd set by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Nigeria’s foreign exchange revenue is dwindling.

Concomitantly, many Nigerians are unemployed. According to the World Bank report, two-thirds of Africa’s most populous country, with over 220 million people, live in poverty, with an additional seven million expected to join them in 2023,

Read also School year relocations: Common pitfalls and how to prevent them

Joy Ajayi, a public servant in Benin City, Edo State, bewails the situation as, according to her, everything is getting out of hand.

“The other day, I was in the market to buy a food flask for my child since her old one has spoiled, and I was told the price is now N13,000 against N4,500 it was before (over 188 per cent increase).

“My daughter’s school fee has increased from N26,000 to N34,000, and I’m yet to know the cost of books, uniforms and other accessories.

The whole thing is driving one crazy; how will one cope with school resumption and  this devastating scenario where the prices of food items, transport, and other daily needs are surging while salary remains constant,” she queried.

Consequent to this erratic price change, virtually every other sphere of human endeavours across the country is being affected, and rather negatively.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) report, “Nigeria’s annual inflation rate rose to 22.79 per cent in June from 22.41 per cent in the previous month.”

The food inflation rate in June 2023 was 25.25 per cent every year; this was 4.65 per cent points higher relative to the rate recorded in 2022