- It’s not our fault, we are being owed salaries, too – Parents
Private school owners have lamented the non-payment of tuition fees by many parents and guardians, saying that the situation has landed many of them in debts.
The private school proprietors/proprietress also regretted that due to this development, many schools had recoded an increase in bad debts, especially as the session ends.
Parents, on the other hand, have blamed their inability to pay their children’s school fees on the economic downturn as well as the non-payment of a backlog of salaries owed them by their individual employers.
For many private schools, the inability of parents to pay their children’s school fees as and when due, would affect the quality of education they provide.
The Principal, Hallmark College, Ibadan, Oyo State, Mrs. Temitope Ajinaija, said that the payment of school fees by pupils has drastically reduced, especially its promptness.
Ajinaija said, “Notwithstanding the percentage, payment of school fees has dropped, the level of bad debt has increased as compared to past years.
“We now have to drive away students several times before you can get results of payments; in all we can say that payment system has reduced drastically. So, now we have to enforce very many rules. Some parents are called several times before they can make up their children’s fees.”
In the same vein, the proprietress, Al-Bayan Montessori Nursery and Primary School, Lagos, Alh. Fatimah Idris, said currently the school could only boast of 50 per cent in payment of school fee and not only for this term but the whole session.
“We have only 50 per cent of the pupils that have paid, while the other half have not paid and we are rounding off the session in few weeks,” Idris said.
She disclosed that in order to encourage parents to offset their children’s tuition fees, the school had written letters, sent text messages but had yet to get any response from them.
“All we just got are promises upon promises and this is affecting the income of the school.
“Though we have an understanding with some parents that immediately they get money they will pay, there are some parents that are not ready to pay. No matter the measure the school takes, they will not respond. Maybe because of economic recession,” Idris said.
Proprietress, Botsun Private School, Lagos, Mrs. Iyabo Onibokun, said the case was not different in her school.
She pointed out that the non-payment of school fees had been on the increase in her school, especially this session.
“We have used different measures to make parents to pay, but they are not forthcoming,” Onibokun said.
For Ajinaija of Hallmark College, Ibadan, Oyo State, this development had hindered the growth of the schools, adding, “If the school wants to expand, we might not likely to be able to expand and those of us on bank loan are finding it more difficult.
“Non-payment will no doubt affect the expansion of the school facilities, for instance now we have a new computer laboratory but we have not been able to buy furniture because of lack of funds.”
The Proprietress, Al-Bayan, noted that the implication of the non-payment of school fees was enormous, especially as the schools were privately run and not being funded by anyone or government.
“When you see what has to be put together-the structures, facilities, the materials and the challenges ahead-you will see that it’s a big task running a school, and getting funds through school fees is important,” she said.
According to Ajinaija, non-payment of school fees would definitely take its toll on learning.
“Though we tried to cover up, we make sure it does not affect learning, one way or the other. For those schools that may not be able to help it, it results in delay in staff salaries and because of this, you cannot get the best from teachers.
“Even those increment that we give to teachers at the end of the session, some schools may not be able to do it and it will have impact on the teachers and when the teachers are not happy, the impartation may not be there. Though as for us, we try to give quality education, despite the situation.
“It will affect learning because most of the practical we are supposed to do, we might not be able to do it accurately,” Al-Bayan’s proprietress, Idris, explained.
The proprietress of Botsun Private School, noted that there was no way the situation would not affect the school system and, of course, learning, because by the time schools began to own, it would affect the output of teachers, too.
But a parent, Mr. Samuel Onitomi, a trader, said that the inability of parents to pay their children’s school fees was due to the parlous state of the nation’s economy.
“Though I have paid my children’s school fees, I must confess that I didn’t pay it on time. In fact, I paid twice because business is not booming as before. Recession is affecting everything; not only education,” he said.
Another parent and business woman, Mrs. Maria Oguns, said it was not possible to give what you didn’t have.
She said it would be impossible for parents, who had not been paid for months in their places of work, to settle their children’s school fees.
“For example, my husband, who is a civil servant, has not received salaries for months now and because of this, we couldn’t pay our children’s school fees in full,” Oguns said.
A civil servant, Mr. Akin Ajikanle, argued that the indebtedness of parents to schools had been on the increase due to the worsening economic situation in the country.
“For example, some states have not paid salaries for months now, how will such parents pay school fees?
“It is important for government to do something very fast about the economy so that children of the middle class will continue to go to school. This is because there is limit to what the school owners can take,” Ajikanle said.