Subsidy Removal: Public Institutions To The Rescue As Parents Dump Private School
Parents are devising various ways to keep their children in school as a result of a hike in school fees and transportation costs, findings by Daily Trust Saturday revealed.
As most public and private schools reopen for new academic sessions, parents said they were in pain as they struggle to take their wards back to school, in addition to handling other basic necessities of life.
It was observed that while some parents change the schools their children attend, others secure apartments closer to where their children attend classes, all in an effort to cut costs.
Some parents said they were compelled to move their wards to public schools even as they claimed that private schools were better.
Recall that President Bola Tinubu announced the total removal of the fuel subsidy on May 29, a development that sparked a ripple effect on the cost of everything.
Malam Bello Auwalu, a civil servant with the Kano State Government, said he had made adjustments in the study pattern of his children.
“I have moved three of my four children to a public school, but my problem is the quality of education there. But do I have a choice?” he queried.
He said that before the latest development, his children attended different schools, costing him N45,000 every 20 days for their transportation, apart from school fees.
He explained that with the economic hardship caused by the subsidy removal, the four kids now need N55,000 in 20 days as transport, which he said he could not afford.
“One of my children is in the state polytechnic, two in secondary school and one in primary school, but due to the oil subsidy removal, I have calculated that I will now be paying N55,000 instead of the N45,000 I used to spend as their transport fare.”
Amina Musa, a widow and mother of three children, said she had concluded all necessary arrangements for transferring her children to the nearest public school.
“I can no longer afford my children’s school expenses that range from transport fare to school fees under this situation. My children are going to be transferred to public school, may God help us,” she said.
‘We share burden with our neighbour’
In an interview with some parents in Damaturu, the capital of Yobe State, it was learnt that some parents are finding it difficult to pay school fees for their kids.
Ali Muhammad, a civil servant said, ‘‘I have 6 children; one is in federal government college while five are in private schools. As we are struggling to cope, just recently the federal government increased the school fees for federal government college students to at least N100, 000, so things became very difficult for me.
‘‘My friends advised me to consider changing the school of my kids by looking for cheaper schools and I agreed. They are cheaper even though the standard is less,” he said.
Abubakar Yunusa, a former reporter with NTA, Damaturu told Daily Trust Saturday that, ‘‘I used to take my children to school daily, but following the removal of petrol subsidy, I set up a plan with my neighbour. While I take our children to school in the morning, he picks them after closing hours. With that arrangement, we minimise our expenses.”
The secretary of the Al-Audah Collage of Qur’Anic Science, Mallam Musa S. Tasha, lamented that more than 40 per cent of pupils were yet to pay their school fees. He said most parents had outstanding bills from previous terms.
The financial secretary of Al-Qalam Memorial Academy, Damaturu, Malam Muhammad Garba Dapchi, said some of their students had stopped coming to school because their parents could not pay their tuition.
‘‘Some students are no longer coming to school because their parents cannot pay their school fees. They said things were difficult for them. They have to think about feeding them first before settling school fees,” he said.
Daily Trust Saturday also observed a decline in the enrolment of pupils into private schools in the state capital.
“I think this is a blessing in disguise,” an official of Local Education Authority (LEA) in Gashua said.
“I am saying this because we, I mean all those who can afford it, have abandoned public schools in favour of private schools. This is basically why the system is rotten.
“However, with this development, I am sure our public primary, secondary and tertiary institutions might likely have a new lease of life,” he said.
Garba Adamu, a trader in Jalingo main market told Daily Trust Saturday that he withdrew his four children from a private school because he could not afford to pay the school fees.
He said although private schools offered good teaching compared to some public schools, he had no option than to withdraw his children and take them to Yamasala Primary School, which is a public school.
Mr Bulus Yakubu, a father of four children, said he enrolled his last child into a public school because he could not afford a private school, where he was asked to pay N42,000.
Daily Trust Saturday observed that this has led to an increase in enrolment at public schools, especially as the state government has announced free and compulsory primary and secondary school education.
Finding revealed that most government-owned primary schools in Jalingo, the state capital, recorded over 500 fresh enrolments this term.
At Yamasala Primary School, all classes were filled with pupils following high enrolment and transfer from private schools.
The headmaster of the school, Mallam Aliyu, told Daily Trust Saturday that more than 500 new pupils had been registered in the school.
Parents mull moving family out of Abuja
In Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, some parents said they were weighing various options to see how they could secure the future of their families.
Ismail Yunusa, who works in a federal ministry, said he had perfected plans to move his family to Keffi.
“I live in Wuse 11 and was paying N130,000, N115,000 and N95, 000 for each of my three children who are in JSS 2, Primary 5 and Primary 2. Sadly, the proprietor of the private school has increased the fees by 50 per cent. They also doubled the cost of transportation and this is practically not sustainable. I am moving them to Keffi in Nasarawa State,” he said.
Jeffery Simon, who works in a private company, said he had moved his family to Kaduna.
“I have no option but to take them back to Kaduna where my parents live. I can’t afford the hike in schools fees and rent.
“Sadly, I took this decision at a great cost because I would have to live alone now. May the Almighty touch the hearts of our leaders to do what is right,” he said.
A trader at Dutse market in Abuja, Paul Njoku, said the increase in fees came at a time his income was dwindling.
“They have increased fees and the cost of books, and everything about school has gone up,” he said.
Many of us cannot send our children to school again. Some parents are thinking of changing their children’s schools and take them to where school fees are less although the quality may not be too good.
“The number of school drop-outs will increase and we hope that this does not lead to an increase in crime in the country,” he said.
Another parent in Kubwa, Yinka Adesoji, said he had resolved to change schools for his children because he could not afford the current fees announced by their current school.
“The fees are now out of my reach and I cannot kill myself. Where do they expect us to get the money? Do they want us to steal? They don’t consider the common man in this country. Maybe they don’t want us to send our children to schools again so that only their children would be educated,” Adesoji said in Yoruba language.
Another parent, Mallam Ibrahim Idris, said the subsidy removal was a big blow and had put unnecessary tension and pressure on him.
“I was unable to pay the school fees of my children last term. The school management would have sent my children back home because of the removal of the fuel subsidy if not for the understanding I had with the proprietor.
“As I speak, I am planning to pull them from private school to public school, ditto other parents, to avoid unnecessary high blood pressure as a result of the removal of fuel subsidy,” he said.
Isah Mayaki, a father of three, called on the federal and state governments to provide affordable and accessible education options to alleviate the overall economic burden on families.
The proprietress of Prime Academy, Pipeline, Kubwa, Halimatu Oyedele, said there would likely be low turnout of students this term.
Checks by Daily Trust Saturday showed that almost all the private primary and secondary schools in the FCT have increased their fees.
The situation is more evident with schools that offer shuttle bus services and those operating boarding facilities.
The same scenario seems to be playing out in Rivers State as many pupils and students have been withdrawn from their respective schools in the state by their parents as a result of the high cost of transportation occasioned by the removal of fuel subsidies by the federal government.
Some of the parents who spoke with our correspondent said they decided to look for nearby schools for their children to save money from the high cost of transportation.
A resident of Oyigbo, Peter Umeh, said he had withdrawn four of his children from a school in Port Harcourt to Oyigbo where he resides.
Also, a resident of Eleme, Emeka Ndu, said he had moved his children back to Eleme from Port Harcourt where they were attending school.
“Before the removal of fuel subsidy, three of my children attended school in Port Harcourt. From Eleme to Port Harcourt is about 10 kilometres and we spent N600 everyday on each of them. But the increase in cost of transportation moved the transport cost from N600 to 1,200, so I had no option than to bring them back to Eleme and register them in a nearby school that is a trekking distance,” he said.
Parents abandon school buses in Akwa Ibom
Some parents who spoke with our correspondent in Uyo said they had abandoned school buses for public transportation.
Pastor Elijah Umoren said the Parents Teachers Association (PTA) of the school where his daughter attends consented to the increase in transport fare as the school wanted to stop the bus ride due to increased fuel price.
Umoren said the school increased both the school fees and bus fare due to the cost of fuel.
“After much deliberation with the school, we arrived at N28,000 per child per term instead of the N20,000 we used to pay.
“The school fees were also increased from N28,500 to N32,500 per term. The high cost of fuel is causing a strain on our finances,” he said.
Another parent, Etorobong Edet, said he changed the school of his children to one nearer home, saying his children’s school is now a walking distance.
“I have withdrawn my children from their old school to one nearer home. Doing school runs every day was not easy, especially with the high cost of fuel.
“My house-help just walks into the school to either drop or pick my children and take them back home,” he explained.
Mr Yaqub Babashola, a resident of Oyo State, said he had to secure another rented apartment in Ologuneru from Eleyele in order to have his children closer to their school.
“I didn’t want to change their school as a result of the cost of transportation from Eleyele to Ologuneru, so we decided to secure another apartment close to their school since our rent was almost due.
“Their mother will also start a business around the area. That means I am the only one who will be spending money on transportation to my workshop at Eleyele,” Babashola, a roadside mechanic said.
A 45-year-old widow, Mrs Oyeleke, who lives in Amuloko, Ibadan, said the hike in fuel cost had made it difficult for her to drive her children to their public school in the Olorunsogo area.