We know. A lot of you are prepping funds for another school year’s fees. For many, it is a time to really shape up our financial behaviours to do that one thing that is probably one of the most important duties of parents. To suggest that the amount of money Nigerian parents have to part with for school fees in not neck-breaking is to be really far from the truth. In many cases, what can be really shocking is the value they receive in return. What’s also concerning is that the bills keep coming as the school year rolls by because students have to pay for other school extra curricular activities over the course of the year. But hey! Should the private schools be blamed? Why are many Nigerians bearing so much for school fees for about 2 decades? What has caused this to happen? I’d like you read this excerpt from The Economist.
‘The failure of state education, combined with the shift in emerging economies from farming to jobs that need at least a modicum of education, has caused a private-school boom. According to the World Bank, across the developing world a fifth of primary-school pupils are enrolled in private schools, twice as many as 20 years ago. So many private schools are unregistered that the real figure is likely to be much higher. A census in Lagos found 12,000 private schools, four times as many as on government records. Across Nigeria 26% of primary-age children were in private schools in 2010, up from 18% in 2004. In India in 2013, 29% were, up from 19% in 2006. In Liberia and Sierra Leone around 60% and 50% respectively of secondary-school enrollments are private.
By and large, politicians and educationists are unenthusiastic. Governments see education as the state’s job. Teachers’ unions dislike private schools because they pay less and are harder to organize in. NGOs tend to be ideologically opposed to the private sector. The UN special rapporteur on education, Kishore Singh, has said that “for-profit education should not be allowed in order to safeguard the noble cause of education’.
Now, where do we go from here? Until we persistently and collectively call for honest and direct investment to be made in our public schools system of education,I’m afraid we may continue to incur increasing cost in school fees for private (for-profit) education across Nigeria. Teachers must be very well trained regularly. School facilities and structure must be kept useful,clean and safe. Education materials must be tailored to train the 21st century child….these and more cost money! You see, some private schools are sincerely making dedicated efforts to reduce and/or maintain costs to the barest minimum just to break even. On the other hand, there are those who having noted the increase in demand and attraction for private education (because of the apparent failing standard of public schooling); are smiling to the bank while probably doing less than average for the paying parent.
The hard truth is that available ‘private schools’ cannot cater for all our education needs in the country. Today, there are more children in public schools…and it rightfully so. What we must do as a country is to declare a state of emergency in the areas of dire need and marshall resources – foriegn and local – until all problems are abated at a consistent rate of change. There are no perfect school systems in the world but every Nigerian child should receive the best education they can – it is their right. ‘For-profit’ schools should sincerely be discouraged so that the ‘real’ goal of education is achieved. Nigerian kids deserve this. For the future of our development. For the growth of the economy. For our collective good and safety, without which is a call for doom’s day.
What are your thoughts?