Parents beg FG, seek review of increase in school fees
More concerned parents of Unity College students in the country have called on the Federal Government to revisit the sudden increase in fees for their children, in a bid to make education accessible to all.
The parents made the call in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday in Lagos.
The Federal Government, through a circular issued to principals of unity schools across the country and sighted by NAN, increased the fees for new students from N45,000 to N100,000.
Mrs Mitchelle Uzor, a small business owner, told NAN that there was no way children of low income earners could afford such bills, considering the current economic reality in the country.
According to her, the unity schools remain the last hope for the masses in acquiring standard education, without necessarily breaking the banks.
She said news on the increase was a blow to her, as she had been saving and preparing for her son, who just graduated from primary school and was ready to gain admission in one of the colleges in Lagos.
“I really don’t know what to do now. I am in a state of confusion because I can not afford that kind of money.
“Times are already hard ordinarily. We can barely feed properly and yet we are faced with this kind of news.
“A situation whereby there is no more hope for access to good public schools where we can still find quality education for our children is unacceptable.
“As Nigerians the only thing that we can gain as proud citizens of this country should be quality education but as we are going, all that seems to fizzle out with all these developments.
“It is not what we expected at this time,” she said.
Mrs Funmilayo Olubiyo, a civil servant, decried the development and called for a review of the fees.
According to her, the current economic crunch is already too much a burden to bear.
She noted that there was the need for government to consider low income earners, such as the bricklayer, vulcanizers and other petty traders before implementing such policies.
“What is happening currently in terms of increase in fees in unity schools and the universities is, to me, uncalled for and ill timed.
“Those of us with children in unity schools and even universities such as University of Lagos are still struggling to come to terms with reality over all these increases in fees.
“How do we cope with all these?. Does it mean we should all withdraw our children from school?
”These public schools have been our last resort. At least, we can still boast of the level of education from these schools to a certain level, compared to some others around the country.
“We try to carry on, within our limited resources in ensuring that our children are educated.
“Now, with all these hikes in fees, where do we run to, what becomes of these children if most of them are denied access because their parents can no longer afford it?
“Government should please do all it can to reverse the situation. Of course, we must find ways of engaging these young ones meaningfully, as every idle mind is a potential workshop for the devil.
”The country is already struggling with a lot of vices among these ones,” she stated.
According to Olubiyo, it is understandable if government wants to find means of upgrading the schools by reviewing the fees upward but it is wrong to make them completely out of the reach of the masses.
She urged government to divert funds removed from fuel subsidy and other sources to take care of the education sector as this remained the only legacy it could give the people.
Chief Adeolu Ogunbanjo, Deputy National President, National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN) also called on the Federal Government to revisit the increase in fees in its institutions, as a means of give succour to Nigerian parents.
According to him, removal of subsidy, for instance, is what some Nigerians have been yearning for, and government, in return, must reciprocate the removal by seeking means of cushioning the effects.
He noted that tampering with fees in federal universities and unity colleges was uncalled for, especially in the face of the ripple effects caused by the removal of subsidy.
“The President must act now. There may be chaos following these hikes, especially with the one of University of Lagos.
“Government should intervene by directing all these fees to be returned to status quo. Education is the thing the masses are trying to hang on to now, and if you make it unaffordable, then it means we are in for a lot of challenges ahead,” he said.
Reacting on the development, Hajia Binta Abdulkadir, Director, Senior Secondary Education Department, called for calm.
She said that the increase in fees for the unity schools was basically for new students (JSS1) for the first term only.
Abdulkadir said that the breakdown of the fees captured uniforms and books, among other key requirements.
A circular she forwarded to NAN showed that the approved fees for the second and third term for students is N47,000, (boarding fees) inclusive.
She noted that the fees were for JSS 1, JSS 2, SS1 and SS2.
The circular also shows that fees for third term for SS3 students is N55,000, while JSS 3 students would pay N46,000, (boarding fees inclusive).
For the first term, SS3 students are required to pay N117,000, inclusive of boarding fees and fees for two of their final examinations.
JS3 students, in the first term, are expected to pay N87,000, inclusive of boarding fees and BECE fees. (NAN