THE prevailing economic recession in Nigeria is gradually taking its toll on the education sector, especially at the primary and secondary levels.
Tribune Education findings in Plateau State revealed that not less than 85 per cent of private schools in the state have increased their fees, along with other materials, on the premise that the cost of books, uniforms among others have gone up.
It is even worse for parents whose children are in boarding schools, who are expected to pay more for feeding and other essentials things.
A principal of a secondary school in Jos, the state capital, who did not want his name in print, told Tribune Education that the increase had become necessary if private schools must remain in business.
“Before my school increased the fees by 45 per cent, several meetings were held with the Parent-Teacher Association to find a way out in line with the economic reality in the country; but a consensus was reached to increase it by 45 per cent to meet up with the running cost.
According to him, those in the boarding house will have to pay more because of feeding. I can tell you that some parents who cannot afford fees and live in Jos have started withdrawing their wards from being boarders to become day students, as a means of cutting cost. Definitely, when school resumes, the number of students will reduce.
However, Tribune Education gathered that while enrollments of some schools are increasing, others are going down based on fees. A school administrator in one of the schools owned by a Pentecostal church in Jos said that in the past one week, no fewer than 50 parents have approached the school to transfer their children to the school.
Said said, “Though there is a slight increment in our fees, it still ranks among the lowest in the state. With our fees, many parents are still complaining; but there is nothing we can do about it.”
Mrs Helen Sabastine, a civil servant who has three children in both primary and secondary schools in the state, said with the session, she needs to buy new sets of uniforms, sandals, books and others.
“My salary as a widow cannot meet all these; the alternative is to look for affordable ones.”
Tribune Education found out that though the state of both public primary and secondary schools in Plateau State is not very impressive, parents appear to be withdrawing their wards out of private schools to public schools owing to increase in fees.
A cross section of people who spoke with Tribune Education in Jos implored the state government to give both public primary and secondary schools in the state a face lift.
A retired teacher, Dalyop Musa said it is obvious that with the hardship in the land, coupled with non-payment of salary or erratic payment of salary, many patents would be forced to transfer their wards to public schools.
“This is an opportunity for the state government to improve the sector. This will go a long way in alleviating the suffering of parents,” he said.
All efforts to speak with the state commissioner for education were unsuccessful, while no official of the State Ministry of Education was willing to comment on the issue either.