Recession: meet Lagos private school where pupils pay N1,000 tuition

By Lawrence Enyoghasu

At 24, Benco Street, off Agbelekale, Abule Egba, Alimosho Local Government Area, Lagos, is located Denon Free Education Foundation. It is a school that specialises in caring for the education of the children of the poor or low-income earners. Believe it or not, it charges N1, 000 as school fees. 

This way, children who cannot afford to attend high-brow schools where their school fees are out of reach or who were withdrawn from school as a result of the biting recession will now have the opportunity of going back to school to achieve their education career dream at an affordable price, thanks to the visionary foresight of Mr. Damian Arinze, an auto mechanic from Anambra State.

He told The Sun Education how the vision came about. “My educational background is nothing to write home about,” he said. “I am a victim of the Nigerian Civil War. I dropped out of school in primary six. I still have it in mind to go back to school someday.”

But for now he wants to help pupils from poor homes who need to start early enough so that they don’t end up dropping out of school, especially in this time of recession, because of high school fees.

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As to how he started the school, he reports in a chat with The Sun Education that he did that with the financial proceeds from his auto mechanic business. “Before now, I looked around my area and discovered that there were many children roaming the street while they were supposed to be in school,” he said. “I started making inquiries from their parents and I discovered that there is something making them not to be in school. Lack of money! So, I decided to assist them.

“In 2011/2012, we flagged off a free education programme. We rented three rooms where we started a school. But about a year after, we started having problems with the landlady. She increased our rent to more than what we could afford. But God helped us and we bought half plot of land and started a two-storey school building. But the last floor is yet to be completed but already we have 250 students schooling here.”

But one regrettable aspect of the sweet story is that the school does not have a secondary school arm. This is heartbreaking for the pupils and their parents, as that would mean their leaving the school to continue their education career pursuit in another school pending the time Damian can complete the building and put in place necessary facilities.

According to one of the pupils and the class captain of basic four, one Miracle Imo, “it is sad that I have to go to another school. I will be glad to tell you that I learnt more here than in my previous school.”

David Asomugha, the Headmaster of the school agrees that the immediate challenge of the school is that they have only primary school section. “But right now we need secondary school. The community is calling on us to have a secondary school and we are working towards it.”

On what makes the school different from others, he noted that its teachers many of who have HND and are well paid by the school management, don’t only build the pupils up academically but also morally and emotionally to believe in themselves.  “What we are doing is to improve the psyche of the children, to build their morals and to increase their leadership qualities,” he said. “In passing through our education system they will develop the mind they need to survive in the society as well as to contribute positively to its growth and development.”