With the unjustifiable high cost of elementary school fees, would I rather be a “bad parent” than a broke one!!

Don’t be dismayed by the apparent rude heading right above you, it’s just a reaction to the unrelenting rip off going on in our children schools.

I have paid my own fare share of school fees over the past few months but N250, 000 a term for putting a 3month old in Crèche? Well that’s just over the top. What are they teaching the child? Oh let me guess? How to suck breast? How to poo? Or is it how not to cry loud? Well your imagination is as farfetched as mine is.

For years now I’ve often wondered why Nursery and primary school fees are probably the highest in Nigeria and probably around the world, when you consider the facilities and quality of education they dish out. A recent study shows private primary school in Nigeria charge an average N80, 000 per term and can actually go as high as N250,000 depending on the class. Private secondary schools on the other hand charge an average N150,000 per term or as high as N500,000 depending on the school and class.

I’ve heard so many arguments in favour of some of these fees and more often than not they are misguided by the vulnerable need to give a child a solid foundation. I then wonder why parents should pay N250,000 per term (N4.5m for 6 years,) assuming no inflation, for a child and then go on to pay N20,000 a semester in University fees. It seems unevenly balanced and quite a disconnect in what is priority. It’s obvious a lot of parents confuse speaking good English with being able to write a constructive sentence or knowing how to play computer games or operate windows to being able to write programs or design modules.

So how come people don’t see this and revolt? Well, they possibly cant because they are up against an exploitative cartel that have, no thanks to the rot in our public primary education, left parents with no choice than to dance to any tune they play however, unpleasant. They have repeatedly devised reasons why increases are and should be made, leaving the parents with little or no choice. Some of the reasons are that their teachers are graduates and as such should be very well paid. Some are that they are constantly sending their teachers on trainings and courses which should positively impact on the child’s academic growth. Some refer to increase in state of the art facilities such as computers, fanciful boards and furniture, air-conditioned rooms, “well” equipped laboratories and blah blah blah. Expediently, good bag of excuses for any parent to squeeze out extra money.

What they however fail to tell you is that the ratio of the bag of excuses to their personal gain is highly skewed. Off course no parent has the time to check if the proprietor has built another brand new house or has moved from a Prado SUV to a G-Guard since the increase were made. They also don’t tell you that their kids have just withdrawn from UniLag and have relocated to Harvard. They also don’t tell you their teacher’s salaries probably just increased by a meager 10% compared to a school fees increase of 50% and off course leaving an opening to increase yet again the next year.

Why should a secondary school be full of teachers who are Bsc. graduates? What training do they have to impact knowledge on a primary or secondary pupil? Why are they not in University teaching undergraduates aero dynamics or common law? Why did we have Colleges of Education or Institutes of Science and Arts? What about people who read Bachelor of Education? Why aren’t there more of them in these schools? What possible experience will a lady who has never had a child have to take care of an infant in a crèche? What has a child got to do with massive computers when he doesn’t even know calculus or geometry? What is the cost benefit of putting a child in a class probably more comfortable than the office his/her parent goes to on a daily basis? I’m bemused and beg to wonder isn’t it substance one should look out for rather than extravagance?

Poor regulation is also to blame for this as there is no Government agency out there doing a good job of counter balancing the excessive hike in fees to the quality of education being dished out. There is no data out there that shows how many pupils from these schools make it to the top in Waec or Neco or even Jamb? Not with the recent results just released as ironically more student failed when they should have passed considering the proliferation of private schools we have in Nigeria. Public schools should actually the best model for elementary education for children as they provide a platform for harnessing the benefit of extensive research and development conducted over time by Government. Government have the wherewithal to pour huge sums of money into trainings, research and development on a regular basis towards understand the dynamics of child education at the elementary level. Private schools as much as they would want to do not have the economies of scale and burden of responsibility required to embark on a project of that importance. This is unfortunately lacking in Nigeria leaving the parents in jeopardy and moral blackmail.

So what option does a parent realistically have giving that public schools are such a no go area. Well the only option is to ignore the lure and deceit of more for less, or to put it mildly, pay more to get “quality” education for your children. Parents should as much as possible seek for schools that impact knowledge over opulence and frivolities. Would you want to pay more because the school boasts of teachers who are Bsc Holders and have state of the art facilities but lack the basics foundation required to impact knowledge on its pupil? Do I want a child who probably speaks Queen English but can’t write a simple essay at 14? Would I rather pay more just because the school has a school bus with AC and TV rather than have my child walk her way home from school provided it’s close to the house?

It’s understandable some parents send their kids to school because of the name of the school and the caliber of children who attend. It’s an obvious phenomenon of influence and hobnobbing. Off course if you can comfortable afford it nothing stops you but don’t mistake that for giving your child quality education. You’re probably doing yourself a favour than you are the child.

For some parents who probably pay about 50% of their real income on school fees, have you asked yourself the honest question of how am I able to pay for this. Is it sewing a seed on concrete? Shouldn’t I save the money and provide my child sound tertiary education? Surely, most of us don’t think in that light. However the money comes we just pay, after all it’s for the future of our beloved child.

My position however, is I rather be in a strong position to give my children quality education at a reasonable cost and all through to tertiary education than spending a fortune on primary and secondary school who specialize in extortion, blackmail and deceit making my child probably more of an aristocrat than a philosopher. I should spend more time with my children exploring their innate abilities and guiding them towards achieving their true potentials. For a child in his or her foundation years, no knowledge learnt from school beats that learnt from a parent. As such, I rather am being misrepresented as a bad parent than a truly broke one in future, who at the peak of my children’s education may not be able to provide the basic financial support for sake of sewing a seed on infertile grounds.

What's your say?