School owners groan over low payment of tuition fees as new term begins

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It’s not our fault, we’re being owed salaries too – Parents

 

As primary and secondary schools across the country resume for the third term, private school owners have lamented the high incidence of non-payment of tuition fees of the first and second terms by many parents and guardians, saying that the situation has left many of them indebted.

The private school proprietors/proprietresses said that they had continued to record an increase in bad debts.

The Principal, Hollyhill College, Ibafo, Ogun State, Mrs. Temilade Aina, noted that the promptness in payment of school fees by pupils has drastically reduced, adding that majority of final class students of the school writing the ongoing May\June West African Secondary School Certificate Examination had yet to pay school fees.

Aina said, “We opened our school a week before resumption and up till today, no single parent has come forward to make any kind of payment. Infact, many of our SS3 students writing WAEC are owing and if you prevent them from writing their examinations, their parents will blame us for making their children to miss the international examination. Infact, the percentage for the payment of school fees has dropped and the level of bad debt has increased, as compared to the past years.

“We now have to send the students back home several times before you can get results regarding payment of school fees; 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 pay up their children’s fees.

“If the school wants to expand, we may not likely be able to do that and those of us on bank loans 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 any computer because of lack of funds.”

Speaking in similar vein, the Proprietress, Al-Fawaz Montessori Nursery and Primary School, Agege, Lagos, Alhaja Sekinah Adegoke, disclosed that currently, her school could only boast of 50 per cent in the payment of school fees since the first term of the academic session, which commenced last year September.

“We have only 50 per cent of the pupils that have paid, while the others have not paid and we are rounding off the session in a few weeks,” Idris said.

She said that in order to encourage parents to offset their children’s tuition fees, the school had to write letters and send text messages, but had yet to get any response from them.

“All we just get 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 at all. No matter the measure the school takes, they will not respond,” Idris added.

The proprietress of De Boss Private School, who pleaded not to be identified, noted that his school was facing critical financial crisis at the moment due to the failure of parents to pay the tuition fees of their wards.

He said that there was no way the situation would not affect the school system and, of course, learning, because by the time schools begin to default in the payment of their staff salaries, it would affect the output of teachers, too.

“Let us wait and see how this term goes because we are already planning to shut down after this term. How we will pay teachers’ salaries for last term is still a mirage because we are owing them two and a half month salary and now the parents are not even encouraging us,” he said.

But a parent, Mr. Shina Olaoye, said that the inability of parents to pay their children’s school fees was due to the state of the nation’s economy, adding that his own business had experienced a downturn in the last two years.

“Though I have not paid my children’s school fees, I must confess that I will pay it with time. In fact, the school has allowed us to pay in three instalments. So, I will try because business is not booming as before. The recession has affected everything; not only education,” he said.

Another parent and business woman, who simply gave her name as Iya Ibeji, said it was not possible to give what you don’t have.

She argued that 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.

“My husband, who is a clerk in a government agency, has not received salaries for months now and because of this, we couldn’t pay our children’s school fees in full. Those people who have not been 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 poor will continue to go to school, because there is limit to what the school owners can take,” she said.