School Resumption: Parents groan under economic challenges

  Some parents in Lagos State have called on the government to provide more alternative strategies to cushion the effects of the economic difficulties, for them to manage the rising cost of education.

They made the call in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday, ahead of resumption of primary and secondary schools in the state for the 2023/2024 academic session on Monday.

The parents said that the economic situation in the country had led to an increase in school fees, uniforms, books and other educational items, impacting the level of preparation for their children’s resumption.

Mrs Ugochi Okeugo, a businesswoman, said the situation had driven her to take a loan to buy textbooks and pay the school fees, in order to meet up with the resumption date.

“The school has increased their fees, and to buy textbooks these days is something else. The ones I bought for N1,500 last year are now N2,500.

“It has not been easy. The ones I can afford, I’ll buy for them and if I can’t, they will manage the ones they have.

“Changing school now would not be easy, because that would attract more school fees and you don’t know the kind of school you are going to put them in,” she said.

Mrs Eucheria Onwudiwe, another parent, said she had to forfeit traveling to the village for the yearly August meeting, to save money to pay for school fees, and change her daughters’ uniform, bags, and books.

“I have three children in school and the fees of that school are so high that, when I collected their pay slip, I noticed an increase of more than N20,000.

“Also, their transport fare was N45,000 last session and now it’s N70,000. I don’t even know how I’ll take them to school this term and bring them back home because the transport fare is too high,” she said.

Mrs Jane Anizoba, on her part, said she was in a tight corner as the economic situation had affected everything from school fees to feeding and transport.

“As parents, we make a lot of sacrifices, by cutting down on most of our expenses.

“For instance, women, in particular, we like parties and want to have one or two new clothes, bags, and shoes to put in our wardrobes.

“But now, we have to drop them and focus on the children because they are the reason why we are fighting and struggling, so their own needs always come first,” she said.

She urged school owners to consider receiving payment in installments to reduce the financial burden on parents.

Another parent, Mrs Akudo Ubani, advised fellow parents not to relent in their efforts and make more sacrifices by reducing the rate at which they attend parties and buy  ‘asoebi’ (uniform special celebration clothes) to ensure children have a smooth resumption.

“This one has affected so much. They have increased school fees, transport, every other thing has increased, and the salary has not increased.

“We are only in the hands of God, but we still believe that with God, everything is going to be easy for us, so we just have to manage and get the things we need to get,” she said.

On his part, Mr Ikenna Oham, said the removal of the fuel subsidy had posed a great economic challenge and put pressure on families who have children in school.

Oham, who has four children in the university and one in primary school, decried the increase in school fees and other fares, as a result of the economic hardship.

On transport, he said he had made plans for his son to stay with a relative, to reduce the amount spent on transport.

“Well, the thing is that children must go to school, you must eat, you must feed yourself, feed your family, you must survive. So, everyone is just being creative with how we do it.

“For now, my last child will stay with my younger sister who lives close to the school from Monday to Friday and then we go and bring him to stay the weekend with us.

“With that, we have been able to cushion the cost of sending him to school every day on transport, or going by bus or taking the car to go and drop him in school and coming back,” he said.

A school teacher, who simply identified herself as Mrs Regina, said that postponing school resumption due to economic difficulties could disrupt the children’s learning process.

She urged the government to provide reasonable palliative measures to cushion the effect of the fuel subsidy removal.

“Government should try and increase the salary of workers and create more job opportunities, she said.

NAN reports that the Lagos State Government, following the removal of fuel subsidy, slashed fares on the state-run means of transport by 50 per cent, with effect from Aug. 2.

The state governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu had also said that commercial buses not owned by the government, popularly known as yellow buses, had promised to slash fares by 25 per cent.

While the government is implementing its promise on its transport systems, many of the yellow buses have not matched theirs with action, leaving fares still high.  (NAN)