By AYOOLAOLAOLUWA

Mass exodus of students has hit several private schools operating in Lagos State, as parents who can no longer afford their high tuition fees have been withdrawing their children from these school in the last one week, Business Hallmark findings can reveal.

The affected parents and guardians, BH learnt, have resorted to either changing their wards to cheaper schools, or enrolling them in public schools where tuition is practically free due to the current economic downturn in the country.

It would be recalled that both public and private primary and secondary schools in the state had resumed for the new 2021/2022 academic calendar on Monday, September 13, 2021.

However, unlike before when resumptions were greeted with much expectations and fanfare, it was observed that the atmosphere in schools visited was subdued.

Our correspondent during visits to some selected schools from Monday to Wednesday, observed that most classes were half filled as many students did not return to school.

A proprietor of one of the affected schools based in the Ifako-Ijaiye area of the state while speaking with our correspondent on the low turn up of pupils in the first week of resumption, lamented that some parents of his students had notified the management that their wards won’t be resuming with them this season.

“Though, the first week of resumption is always like this, with pupils always returning late for studies after just returning from vacations, this year’s own is different.

“I can tell you as a matter of fact that these empty seats your are seeing are not going to occupied as some parents have notified us that their wards won’t be returning to us this session.

“These are even the ones who have the courtesy to inform us. Most parents did not even bother.

“When we asked them why they why were withdrawing their wards from our school, they blamed it on the biting economic condition in the country, saying they could no longer afford the fees”, the distraught school owner who did not want his identity disclosed informed our correspondent.

The proprietor of Torts International School based in Ijaiye-Ojokoro, Mr. Simon Adewale, also claimed that some parents and guardians had informed the school management that their children won’t be returning to the school this session.

According to Adewale, the trend (withdrawals) started as far back as 2020 when most parents lost their jobs or were affected by the negative effects of the Covid19 pandemic on the nation’s economy.

“I can’t really blame them (parents). The situation of things in the country is quite bad. Though I shouldn’t tell you this, but I will do so that you can have the true picture of things.

“One of our esteemed parents who coincidentally was the immediate past chairman of the Parents Teachers Association (PTA) is among those badly affected by Covid19.

“We are very close so I know much about what he is passing through. In June 2020, hus employers sacked about fifty percent of the workforce, while the lucky ones were given the option of either accepting a 50% pay cut or leave.

“He humbly accepted the pay cut which brough his salary from N500,000 monthly to N250,000. Not quite long after, his employer also cut his salary by another N100,000, leaving him with only N150,000.

“I saw the current situation coming as he struggled to pay the fees for his four children totalling N1.55million last session. That was apart from the cost of using our school bus at the rate of N50,000 per ward, making it N200,000 per term and N600,000 for the three terms.

“So, when he approached me in July that he would be changing his children to a nearby school to save the cost of transportation and also further cut the cost of tuition, it didn’t come as a surprise to me at all.

“Though, we have also admitted some students who came from a relatively higher fees paying schools in order to drive down cost, the number of new intakes is not commensurate with the numbers that left”, Adewale moaned.

A pupil of a popular school in the Fagba area of Lagos told BH that many of her colleagues did not resume with them in the new term.

“We used to be around 30 in a class in the last three years, but we are now reduced to 15. According to my colleagues, most of them from far locations like Ogba, Kola, Meiran, Agege, Agindingbi and others left because their parents can no longer afford the high cost of transportation.

“While one told me that her dad told her that the cost of transportation alone is enough to pay half of her fees, another confided in me that her father lost his job and her mum is a petty trader and that they could no longer afford her fees.

“It would have be worse as 18 out of the 30 in my last class changed schools. The three that made up the 15 are new intakes who also relocated from other schools”, said the S.S.1 pupil who wanted to be recognised only as Tobiloba.

While private schools are daily losing their wards, public schools in the state are becoming the brides with growing number of enrollees.

An official in the Lagos State Ministry of Education said the numbers of new enrollees in both public primary and secondary schools have more than doubled in the last one month.

“Before now, we used to embark on enlightenment campaigns to woo parents to come and enrol their wards in public schools. But today, the reverse is the case.

“The harsg economic condition, I think, is responsible for the upsurge in students enrollment. The surge is more pronounced in government model colleges, as affected middle class parents daily besiege them to get their wards enrolled”, the source disclosed.

BH checks revealed that many middle income earners, particularly seniour government workers who used to send their wards to private schools, are daily withdrawing and enrolling them in model colleges scattered across the state.

One of the reasons for this, BH learnt, is because tuition in the schools are free, with only boarding students paying N25,000 boarding fee.

When reminded by our correspondent that model colleges are no longer cheap and that boarding fees for boarders have been increased from N25,000 to N75,000 by the state government, a parent who just secured admissions for three of students in one of the state model colleges in Ikorodu, Architect Sesan George, said the fee is a peanut compared to what he used to pay for his wards in private schools.

“How much is N75,000? Do you know how much I paid for my children while they attended The Ambassadors College in Otta?

“I think Nigerians are not sincere. They love free things. In the N75,000, food, beddind and other basic facilities like water, power and security are provided. And a sane person will complain that it is too high.

“If I may ask, will N75,000 be enough to feed a 12-year-old in a term? We are talking of 14 weeks – three months and two weeks. That is less than N20,000 a month.

“The children eat three square meals a day. Forget the noise about the poor quality of the meals. The parents arguing against the hike in boarding fees are just hypocrites. Most of them spend more than that amount on provisions for their wards in a month, yet they complain against the fees knowing fully well the value of services their wards get.

“As for me, what I paid at The Ambassadors for one child covered the expenses I just paid for three children in the model college. I advise Nigerians to avoid the headaches of always sweating to look for scarce and vanishing resources and enrol their children in special public schools”, George advised.

Meanwhile, management of schools have introduced back to school financing options to help hard-hit parents and guardians offset the tuition of the wards.

Some of the incentives include the options of staggering payments for up to three months, tuition cuts of between 10% to 40%, as well as helping parents to secure loans from financial institutions.

A message sent by a school to a parent on a WhatsApp platform reads:

Dear esteemed parents, pleasant afternoon to you. As discussed at the last PTA meeting, the school policy is total payment of school fees before resumption or latest two weeks after resumption.

Parents who need the service of creditclan should apply through the link below.
htts://cclan.cc/real×××××××××××××

Credit Clan is a technology firm willing to assist parents pay fees ahead and allow parents repay in instalments, either weekly or monthly within a period of three months with a token charge of 3% to 5% per month.

If you have difficulties while filling the form, kindly contact creditclan representatives on 09053535333.

Thanks.
Many parents, in their efforts to best the full payment before or two weeks after resumption requirement of the school, it was learnt, have subscribed to the plan.

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