As the economic recession triggers a new type of migration of
students from private to public school, some school owners have
resolved to give 50 percent discounts to any parent who pays for a whole
session, as against paying for a term. This is as some parents keep
mounting pressure on school administrators to give their children double
promotion to escape one year school fees.
Vanguard investigations revealed that as parents withdraw their
children and wards from private schools, owners of some private schools
have introduced attractive discounts to parents to curtail the
unfavourable trend.
Discounted fees

In one of the schools at Ipaja the offer was; if any parent can pay
one year school fees in advance, he or she will get 50 per cent discount
the following year.

For some schools, management has concluded plans to reduce school
fees so as to appeal to the conscience of parents who might be thinking
of  patronise public schools.

The Proprietor of Tob Land Nursery and Primary School, Agege, Lagos,
who did not want his name in print lamented that there were some parents
who, due to the prevailing economic recession,  have gone to owners of
private schools seeking for double promotion for their children. Without
counting the academic consequence on their wards, some parents have
maintained that  the double promotion will relieve them of the burden of
paying school fees for a year.

His words: “Almost 75% of the parents are unable to pay their
children’s school fees and buy books due to the recession. Some parents
are buying half of the text books.

“The initial thought was to increase the school fees this term but I
was unable to because of the economic challenges. Right now, parents
have withdrawn their children to public schools. About 15 students from
my school have been taken to public schools.

Double promotion

‘’Some parents are even trying to give their children double
promotion and if you do not do that for them, they will take their wards
to other schools, just so that they will not pay the school fees of the
three terms they are supposed to pay.”

Dr. Shinaayomi Akintolure, Proprietor Stokhan Schools, Iyana Isashi,
Lagos said; “As a result of the recession parents are beginning to take
the option of withdrawing their children. About 10 to 15 percent are
beginning to take their children to government-owned schools, not only
because of increase in school fees but because even to keep the home
front going has become an issue.

Shrink in population

“We cannot increase our fees. Maybe the highbrow areas can attempt
it, but we here cannot.We really have a 10 to 15 percent shrink in the
number of pupils, to public schools.”

Also, the Principal, Caro Favoured School, Awodi-ora, Lagos, Mr. Mark
Okoh said; “Due to the  economic recession, there is truly low
patronage, if I tell you it did not affect us, it will be a lie. We
still have not got the requisite amount of learners returning to school.
Even the new ones that are supposed to resume are going to other
schools, some public schools, others to more affordable schools.’’

‘’It has always been the system of private schools to tolerate
parents who can’t pay the lump sum at once, but this year, parents
paying in instalments have increased because of the recession.”

Non-Profit education

Suggesting a temporary solution,  Akintolure said that school owners
who really know their onions,  need to take their eyes off solely making
profit and just focus on educating the children. ‘’This is because you
cannot sack teachers like banks sack workers. As proprietors we need to
sacrifice about 40 to 50 percent of our profit, if need be, to ensure
that children keep getting the best and we remain in business.” As Okoh
pleaded with the government to look into the recession, turn the economy
around so that all aspects of life will return to normal,’’ he added.

Financial inability

Mrs Gladys Adewumi whose three children attend Living Joy Nursery and
Primary School, Ikorodu said she withdrew two of her children from the
private school to public schools when it was apparent her husband could
not cope financially.

She said: “I operate a beauty salon and my husband is a plumber. For
over a year now my husband has not been able to live up to his financial
responsibility in the family which led to our over N100, 000
indebtedness to the school.

Austerity measures

“To reduce the financial burden, we agreed to remove two of our
children from the school to a government school at Elepe.The challenge I
may encounter now is the distance between our resident and the school
which is about five miles,” she added.”

Meanwhile, the Proprietor of Dee-soar Nursery and Primary School,
Ikorodu, Mr Samuel Ojo who lamented the devastating effect of the
economic recession, noted that since schools resumed from vacation, many
students are yet to resume.  He said:, “Having had the foresight of the
austerity, my staff and I went to parents, encouraged them and tried to
instill hope in them. We will still go back to them again, because I
know many are planning to go public school.”

Exodus to public schools

The situation was similar at Wiseman Generation School, Ikorodu. It’s
Proprietress, Mrs Peace Omar, said that many students are yet to resume
from vacation, adding that the situation was not unconnected to the
recession.  She said:”I know of a parent who withdrew her child to the
public school. Because of the hardship, we have decided not to increase
school fees, yet parents are not satisfied. The only time we added
N2,000, parents complained.”

On his part, the proprietor of Gosfat Nursery and Primary School,
Agege, Mr. Gosfat said, “The recession has affected every home. Most
parents have withdrawn their children and wards and taken them to public
schools despite the fact that our school fees is low.

“Last term because of the economy difficulty in the country, I
reduced my school fess by N1,000. Yet, most parents still find it
difficult to pay.

“The only reason they are giving me is that there is no money. We
have the same market system. What affects the top affects the bottom.
This new term alone, I have lost over 20 of my students as a result of
the recession which has never happened before.