•Bills pile as kids commence new academic year
•Abuja schools where fees are denominated in dollars
By AIDOGHIE PAULINUS and KEMI YESUFU
This is September. It is a special month, and to some extent a nightmarish month for parents.It is a month associated with high spending, shopping, borrowing and changes in location for families and parents. The parent that is alert to his/her duties always plans ahead in expectation of September because it is a month to pick heavy bills. The reason bills escalate is because the school year starts in September and many parents would tell you, after picking the bills, their peace returns and those who could not easily do that live in frenzy and panic.
If you ask those parents, who are tenants and have their tenancy renewable in September, they will tell a better story of how tense it is to remember September. Bring issues of spending in September to any parent and the response you get is: “That should wait until after the children’s fees are paid.”
The city of Abuja is one carved out for high cost of living, especially in house rent and children’s school fees. Because the use and patronage of public schools has really declined, parents live at the mercy of private school owners this time of the year. Here in Abuja, as in most parts of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), school fees come in startling digits and right now, the heat is on as Abuja Metro spoke with parents on what the month has in stock for their bills.
Before the encounter with parents on what they face this month, we took a sample of some schools in some parts of the city to find out what applies in rates they charge. It seems there is competition in town on who charges most and parents also tend to have a trend of believing that the higher a school charges them, the better the quality of education they have.
A school manager, braved it to tell Abuja Metro that “most parents see a school that does not charge as much as those around it as inferior and would rather take their children to the one with higher bill to pay.” Well, if that would be a surprise to you, how would you feel hearing of those schools in Abuja where fees are paid in dollars. However, the schools, from Abuja Metro’s findings give parents the option of paying the fees in the naira equivalent of the dollars. Some are in Gwarimpa, Maitama, Asokoro, parts of Garki, etc. In naira equivalent, the fees per child per term in these schools range from between N450,000 and N1.7 million.
A school Abuja Metro sampled its fees indicated that at admission a pupil pays $1000 dubbed Capital Development, that is followed by another N240,000/term fee. Parents’ preparation Checks by Abuja Metro in some schools revealed the hassles parents go through in trying to meet the needs and demands of their children’s schools. Schools like the Turkish International College, Wuse 2, and the Centagon International School, Maitama, revealed the exorbitant fees parents pay in either enrolling their wards or as they resume in a new session.
Investigation at the Turkish International College revealed that enrolment of new students into the junior secondary school, costs a total sum of N1,495,000, at the beginning of a session. This amount, according to our sources, covers all that the student needs, excluding toiletries. The amount, our sources said, is paid at the beginning of a new session.
But the situation was different at Centagon whose fee for new students is pegged at N1,470,000. Unlike Turkish where the student does not need to pay additional sum at the beginning of a new semester, the situation is different at Centagon where each student is supposed to pay N1,180,000. One of the school’s staffers, who attended to Abuja Metro, said “at the beginning of a new session, a secondary school student is expected to pay N1,180,000.” A parent, Barrister Georgina Ehuriah, a Deputy Director in the Office of the Permanent Secretary, Ecological Fund, Office of the Secretary of the Government of the Federation, however differed in the preparation of wards for a new session, saying it is not really difficult as such. She said one had to plan. “Planning is the key to making sure that your children return to school without stress. As soon as they go back to school, you start planning by putting something aside every month.
For those of us, who are salary earners, you have to really plan. Otherwise, you will start having difficulties, trying to raise school fees if you wait until it is time to go to school. It will be difficult.” The mother of two, who, however, refused to disclose how much she pays for her children, also said as soon as her children are back from school on holiday, she asks them to do a list of everything they require and picks them early enough. “And because I plan and I am very strict with it, I find it a bit less stressful.”
But for Mrs. Daria Ezem, Manager, Corporate Services, Red Sapphire Nigeria Limited, an event management firm, it is really difficult, preparing one’s children for a new session. Ezem said: “It can be difficult in this present kind of situation in this country. For each of my three children, I pay N48,000 at the beginning of a new session.
As they resume school, since they are still at the primary level, they are expected to pay like N48,000 and that is too hard on me. It is not funny at all,” she said. Asked if she enjoys the escalating school fees cost, Ezem said she always planned ahead because failing to plan ahead will make things too difficult. “During the period when they were on holiday, I planned for their resumption.
I was more like prepared for them.” Whichever angle one views resumption time in Nigeria, for both the rich and low income earners, there is no gainsaying that preparations could be biting. However, it is discernible to note that the economic hardship is biting hard on parents, even as they prepare their wards for a new session right now. +Million naira schools Loyola Jesuit Turkish International Centagon International Others Regent Schools, Gwarimpa – N450,000 Siloam School, Gwarimpa – N102,000 The Future Hope School, Gwarimpa – N95,000, bus fare – N20,000 Aduvie Primary School – $1000 (Capital Development) N240,000 fees brainyVille, Wuse 2 – between N135,000 – N180,000 (Creche to primary)