Parents groan as school owners charge spurious fees

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As primary and secondary schools across the country are resuming for the second term of the 2021/2022 academic session, parents and guardians of students in private schools are now at the mercy of school owners who expect them to clear bills for many spurious items, including development and entrepreneurship levies, without materials or tools for practical’s.

Also included are fees for diction in English Language in the absence of a language laboratory.

These fees are exclusive of school, report card and lesson fees, among others.

John Akinluyi, whose son attends a private school in Ajasa area of Lagos State, was angry when his little boy demanded N10,000 to pay for end of the year party in his school last December.

“What are they going to give the pupils? It is part of the many ways these private schools exploit and extort parents. They keep demanding fees for items they don’t have or offer the pupils. I won’t blame them, it is due to the kind of country we live in and the way we run it.

“Now, from Meiran where you have the Lagos State Model College, down to Ajasa where there is the Nigerian Army Command School to Obasanjo Farm and down to Toll Gate which is the boundary between Lagos and Ogun states, we have just two public secondary and two public primary schools. One of the secondary schools, Odualabe, is even a junior one that stops at JSS 3 class.

“One can now imagine where children of over 200,000 parents in those areas will attend school. That is why people are forced to put their children in private schools. The situation is not peculiar to Lagos. Go to any Nigerian town or city, you will notice that areas that are just developing always lack government’s presence regarding facilities such as schools, hospitals and others. It is because we don’t plan ahead,” he told Vanguard.

Abuja school fixes fees in US Dollars

As schools in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT Abuja, resume academic activities on Monday, parents and guardians of students in Stella Maris College, one of the leading private schools in the nation’s capital city, are expected to pay fees and other charges in United States Dollars.

Vanguard gathered that it is not a new development as the school had always accepted payments of fees and other levies in foreign currency.

As gathered from the website, the school sets its 2022 school fees at $14,940. This comprises student’s fee per annum which stands at $13,870; compulsory maintenance and capital levies, otherwise, called family fees (billed to eldest students at $350 and $720, respectively).

The school explained in its prospectus that the maintenance levy “is a compulsory levy to enable the college embark on long-term maintenance.’’

It stated further: “Parents may choose to be involved in the college and give off their time in lieu of their payment by volunteering in the canteen or uniform shop.

“Capital Works Levy is a compulsory levy for building projects. The capital levy is set each year by the college and approved by the Board of Directors. The income from the levy contributes to the capital costs of the college buildings, infrastructure and construction of facilities, as this amount forms a collectible part of school fees, no tax deduction is possible.’’

As observed, there is what is called “Voluntary Building Fund in the school. This levy which $400, is recommended per family, according to the school, ”is an optional payment of any amount paid to Stella Maris College Building Fund. You may claim a tax deduction for these payments.”

Other charges such as dance, drama and music were also seen.

Expectations from parents as schools resume

Some private schools in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, released a list of fees and other payments expected of returning and new students.

A prospectus released by Victory College, one of the many private schools in Karu area of the FCT, showed that besides school fees,students of the school are expected to pay for security, websites, magazines and what it described as “skool media.”

A neighbour, who has two of his wards in the school, explained that the school released the list of items and charges to parents before it vacated for Christmas holidays.

The common charges observed in most schools whose websites were accessed, were for extra classes, utilities, medical services, vocational subjects, clubs, societies, sports and stationery.

It was also observed that most schools charge what they called maintenance levy and capital works levy.

WAEC, NECO registration fees

It was also learned that private schools in Abuja and surrounding state of Nasarawa charge their candidates writing the West African Examinations Council,WAEC’s Senior Schools Certificate Examinations,SSCE, fees ranging from N39,000 each against the recommended N13,950, pegged by the examination body.

The same amount or more, according to a Vanguard source, is also charged as registration in the ongoing National Examinations Council, NECO, in the areas mentioned.

Recall that WAEC had during the announcement of the release of the 2021 May/June diet of the SSCE, announced increment of the registration fee for its examination from N13,950 to N18,000, which is still far below the N39,000 charged by private schools.

The increment, which amounted to about 29 per cent, according to the council, begins in the 2022 senior school certificate examination,SSCE..

Head of WAEC Nigeria Office, Patrick Areghan, who made the announcement, blamed the development on the coronavirus pandemic, rising inflation rates and the biting insecurity.

Areghan had said: “Owing to the devastating effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic which has brought the global economy to its knees, the unabating spiraling inflation in the country as can be seen in the general cost of doing business and the multiplier effect of the unabating insecurity in the country, which have consequential effects on the cost of our operations, it is no longer possible to continue to provide services with the current fee of N13,950.00 per candidate.

“Furthermore, our ad-hoc workers – supervisors, examiners, checkers, item writers and, indeed, all examination functionaries, have been agitating for improved remunerations.

“We have received approval from the appropriate quarters with effect from the WASSCE for School Candidates, 2022, to charge N18,000.00 per candidate. We are, therefore, asking all school principals to collect N18,000.00 per candidate for registration.

‘’A part of this new fee has been dedicated to the enhancement of the remunerations for the various examination functionaries and our Governing Board has graciously approved the remunerations, which will come into effect from the WASSCE for school candidates, 2022.”

He had, however, said any amount beyond N18,000 charged by any school “will not be to our consent or knowledge and will definitely not come to the purse of the West African Examinations Council.”

But findings by Vanguard have pointed to the contrary. Private schools are charging their candidates N39,000 and above for WAEC and NECO registration. The amount does not include school fees.

A parent,who identified himself as John Amuda in Nyanya area of the FCT, told Vanguard that he paid the sum of N40,000 for his son’s WAEC registration before the Christmas holidays. This, he said, was outside school fees and other charges.

He claimed he was not aware that the recommended registration fee by WAEC was 13,950, saying he was not the only person that paid the fee.
READ ALSO: OAU denies increasing school fees

“My son is writing the forthcoming WAEC and NECO. So far, I have registered him for the first one. The second registration, being that of NECO, is to be done this January. We are expected to pay similar amount. I’m not aware that the registration fee recommended by the federal government is N13,950 because as parents or guardians, we all paid the same amount to the school.

“If government does not enforce the registration fee set for both WAEC and NECO across the country and put in place a disciplinary measure to curtail it, there is nothing we can do as parents or guardians,’’ he said.

It was observed that most schools did not display their charges on their websites accessed by Vanguard.

Most expensive private schools in Nigeria

In the South-South geopolitical zone, the Norwegian International School, Port Harcourt, expects parents to pay a total of N2.5 million as fees per child.

The amount is made up of enrolment fee of N250,000; development fee, N250,000; tuition fee, of N1.84 million; PTA fee, 20,000; and £600 for unspecified matter.

Charles Dale Memorial International College, Port Harcourt, Vanguard learned, also charges about N2.04 million per annum per student.

Loyola Jesuit School, Abuja, charges about N2.8 million per annum per student.

In the North-Central region, Hillcrest School, Jos, Plateau State, tops the list with a total package of N2.65 million per session per student.

The South-West region has the highest number of the most expensive schools in the country.

The fee at Grange High School, Ikeja, Lagos, is N4.5 million per year; British International School, Lagos, N4.48 million per annum; Lekki British International High School, N4 million; and Day Waterman College, Abeokuta, N3.7 million, among others.

However, American International School, Victoria Island, Lagos, according to findings, is the most expensive school in the country.

Information from the school’s website showed that for a child to be admitted to the school, whether at the primary or secondary level, an application fee of N287,903 has to be paid.

The school, owned by American International School, Abu Dhabi, UAE, also requires the payment of N5,768,062 as registration fee and tuition fee of N7,254,338, making a total of N13, 300,300 as the total amount to be paid per child per annum.

Deeper Life International School charges N395,000; ABUAD International School N480,000 per term

Despite the fact that few of the private schools are at the fore-front, their fees are outrageously expensive, and this is getting the educational system into a fix.

According to the 2021 WAEC result, Ikeoluwa Okunola, a student of Greater Tomorrow Model College, Ado-Ekiti, which charges about N100, 000, was rewarded by Governor Kayode Fayemi, for his outstanding performance in WAEC.

This has been intriguing, as it leaves questions on why parents spend much to educate their children in private schools.

According to findings, parents are not buoyant to fund the exorbitant school fees due to the harsh economic condition in the country.

Speaking with Vanguard, a parent, Mr Tope Akindele, lamented the economical situation of the country and the hike in prices of almost everything, noting that it had deprived him the opportunity to fulfill his duty as a parent, especially in the area of education.

Chike Anyanwu, a trader, lamented the expenses he made during the festive period, which had drained him financially.

He said: “The festive season is just over and lots of money have gone with that period. It is not that I spent lavishly because it was what the season demanded. It is also important that my children are given quality education and that is why I enrolled them in a private school to attain greater heights in their academic pursuits.

“It is also because of the deteriorating educational value system of the public schools and the over population they are faced with that I did not consider enrolling them in a public school,” he lamented.

According to research, Deeper Life International School, Ado-Ekiti, charges N395,000, which this is quite on a high side for a school that is owned by a church.

Equally, ABUAD International School, Ado-Ekiti, charges N480,000 for a term, but questions are being raised as to whether the school offers value commensurate with the fee being paid by parents.

Mrs Funmi Ali, a parent, urged the governments to invest in public schools, so parents could be reassured of the educational values they give, noting that such move will encourage their wards into public schools and in turn limit the proliferation of privately-owned schools.

She said: “I do not blame private schools for the hike in school fees because they are a profit-oriented establishments, which has to be fulfilled, but governments can curb that act by equipping public schools to compete with the private ones.

Speaking with Vanguard correspondent, the chairman, Association of Private School Proprietors, Ekiti State chapter, Reverend Williams Oluwafemi, disagreed, saying school fees in Ekiti varied, depending on the school.

He said there were different factors that are often considered by schools before arriving at their charges, including location, facilities, quality of education and teachers.

According to him, the association does not meddle in administrative affairs of school such as school fees, hence it has no control over what a school charges.

He noted that there are many schools in Ekiti State and any parent who feels that the charges of a school is high should withdraw their children to other schools which charges suit their pocket.

Reverend Williams confirmed that though private schools are burdened with multiple taxation, that couldn’t have been a reason for any school to charge beyond the reach of parents and guardians.

It’s private arrangement, they shouldn’t complain – Ondo PTA chairman

Reacting to the development, Ondo State chairman of PTA, Chief Abimbola Omojola, said the issue of high fees in private schools was not new.

“lf the private schools are charging high fees for pupils, it’s a private arrangement which is different from what’s obtainable in public schools. Any parent who sends his children to private school should know that he/ she would have to pay more.

“ So it’s voluntary. You can’t expect public schools to ask for high school fees from pupils. That’s why the schools are called private school, private arrangement.

“ However, I don’t blame the private owners who are asking for high fees, so many things are involved in running the schools,’’ he said.

However, a member of the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools, NAPPS, in the state who spoke with Vanguard in confidence, disagreed that the fees charged in private school were on the high side.

He told vanguard: “ Against the widespread belief that our members charge high fees, what we charge is just average fees compared to the overhead cost in the schools. When you say private school, you expect all facilities to be up to date, functioning with experienced staff.

“ You cannot compare the type of equipment in our laboratories with what you have in public schools where they wait for government impress to buy reagents. No light, no generator, What about the quality of teachers, we pay teachers, even while students are on holidays and school fees are not paid by students.

“I’m sure if parents are not satisfied or getting value for the supposed high fees they pay, they would have withdrawn their wards to public schools.’’

Findings by Vanguard showed that no private school owners in the state charge less than N250,000 per term, while the highest is about N450,000

Some parents with wards in private schools said they had no regret sending them to the schools because they are getting value for their money.

One of the parents, Mrs Bosede Nap lsaac, said “I’m getting value for the money I pay as school fees for my children in private schools.

“ We can complain to the owner of the school if we are not satisfied with services rendered but in public schools, the opposite is always the case.

Another parent, Alhaji Ahmed Kasimawo told Vanguard that although the fees are “actually high, the owner of the school my child attends allows patents to pay thrice before the next term. He doesn’t allow carry over. You must finish paying for the term to avoid carry over to next term,’’ he said.

What we pay as tuition fees in private schools is exorbitant —Ebonyi parent

The situation is not different in Ebonyi State.

Speaking with Vanguard, a mother of three who did not want her name in print, explained that although private schools tend to provide qualitative education, their charges were usually on the high side.

“What these private schools in Ebonyi State collect as tuition is rather becoming unbearable. In fact, the fees are increased every year, while new ones are introduced without the consent of parents.

“The fees I pay as tuition was recently increased. The school does that at will, not minding the financial capabilities of parents.’’

Another parent, Mr. Njoku Ebere, said he had started nursing the idea of removing his children from private to a public school..

Asked why, he noted: “My brother, with the way things are going, if I allow my children to remain in their present school, we may not be able to feed and take care of other necessities.

“Another painful aspect of the fees they collect, is the introduction of unnecessary levies by the teachers of private schools.

“There was a time my daughter told me they were asked to pay a particular amount in class as instructed by her teacher. I asked to know what the money was for, and I discovered that it was solely the initiative of the school teachers

“Some parents like myself opposed it, and it never came to fruition. That was the least we could do then. So, you discover that private schools are run to exploit parents. This is absolutely not acceptable.”

A civil servant in Enugu State, Mr Simon Adonu, lamented the cost of training children in private schools in the state.

He said most parents go borrowing to pay their children’s school fees and other levies as their salaries could no longer pay the school fees. He said some schools charge as much as N400,000:00, as school fees, while some collect more than that.

We offer value for fees charged —NAPPS

However, reacting to parent’s complaints, the President, National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools, NAPPS, Otunba Yomi Otubela, noted that fees charged by his members were moderate, adding that they offered value for money.

“Fees charged by our members are not high. If you calculate what federal and state governments across the country budget for education and divide that by the number of pupils and students in public schools, you will know that what is spent on each child is higher than what is averagely charged by us.

“Also, it is some people who pay the fees of students in public schools, nothing is really free in the true sense of it. The question is, are people getting value for their money? If yes, there is no issue. If they don’t, they have the option of getting out of the system and put their wards wherever they like,” he said.

Nigeria Union of Teachers’ take

The Chairman of Lagos State Council of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, Comrade

Akintoye Hassan, said there were so many angles to look at the issue.

According to him, establishing a private school is not different from setting up a business to make profit.

“The aim of any business is to maximise profit and minimise cost. And that will affect charges, starting from the overhead to depreciation. One of the instruments of attraction is packaging. Beautiful edifices and classroom setting. We are not talking about the quality of teachers. That is where they cut cost by engaging less qualified personnel.

“Those who patronise them are the elite who ought to come together and put pressure on government to provide qualitative education for all. But they want to show class and put their wards in such schools.’’

What parents think

The National President of the National Parent Teacher Association of Nigena, NAPTAN, Alhaji Haruna Danjuma, said private schools offer educational services which are commercial in nature.

“Whoever takes his child there should be ready to bear the cost. My candid advice to parents is that they should know their capacity. Don’t go beyond your limits. It is the poor state of public schools that led many to patronise private ones.

‘’If parents are not getting what they have paid for, they can use the avenue of PTA to put the owners on their toes, for instance.

“Even the governments are not implementing their educational policies well. The free basic education policy is not implemented well. The poor state of public schools drives parents to send their wards and children to private ones,” he said.

Govt has failed the people—NAPTAN

The National Parent, Teachers Association of Nigeria, NAPTAN, said governments at various levels have failed the people and exposed them to exploitation.

Its National Publicity Secretary, Dr Ademola Ekundayo, said if government had maintained quality in public schools as it was in the 70s and 80s, people will not be at the mercy of private school owners who run businesses for profit and without any regulation.

“Well, there is no way you will not expect private institutions to charge exorbitant fees when government refused to do the needful, they believe they are doing business and in as much as many parents in Nigeria don’t believe in public school again due to lack of standard, there is no way they will not take that advantage.

“During our own time, there was nothing like private school, public schools then had very good standard that can compete anywhere, even beyond the shores of Africa and the salaries of teachers were paid regularly until recently that we began to see huge sums of money in public sectors but not for teachers. That was the beginning of the problem.

“There was a time in this country that landlords will tell you that there’s vacancy but not for teachers because they will not pay. How do you expect them to be motivated, to be encouraged, but in a nutshell, the truth of the matter is that the problem is from the government.’’

We can’t legislate on school fees — FG

Commenting on the issue, the Director of Information, Federal Ministry of Education, Mr Ben Goong, said the federal government was trying to make its schools first choice for parents seeking admission for their children.

“Our schools are first choice for parents, except parents who want to brag that they pay millions of naira for their children’s education in some primary and secondary schools.

‘’No government can legislate on fees payable in private schools. Which schools have better facilities and personnel than government schools?

“We have more qualified teachers and what we have in our schools is more or less a free education policy. We have provided alternatives and no government can legislate on what private school owners charge.

‘’klIf parents think they are not getting value for their money, they should take their children to public schools,” he said.