With the new academic session approaching, the signs of back-to-school are evident as parents venture into the market for last-minute preparations.
However, amidst the typical back-to-school rush, an air of concern hovers over Akure, the capital of Ondo State, due to recent economic hardships exacerbated by the removal of fuel subsidies and inflation affecting various sectors.
Before the sudden economic downturn, primary school fees ranged from N35,000 to N50,000 per term, and secondary school fees were between N65,000 and N150,000. Yet, inflation has significantly elevated these figures, with primary school fees now soaring to around N75,000 to N120,000 per term.
Likewise, the cost of textbooks and uniforms has reached an overwhelming level, leaving many parents distressed by the substantial surge in education-related expenses.
Funmi Omoniyi, a single mother of three, lamented that the increased fees and book costs, coupled with rising daily expenses, have placed a significant strain on her ability to provide for her family.
Another parent, Mr. Aliyu, expressed his frustration, attributing the situation to the removal of fuel subsidies, which has affected various aspects of life, including education.
To adapt to these circumstances, many families are adopting stringent budgeting and cutting down on unnecessary spending. Bola Daunsi, a head teacher at a private school in Akure, explained that the decision to raise school fees was not taken lightly but was influenced by various factors beyond the school’s control. She acknowledged the economic hardships faced by families but noted that private schools are also grappling with the same economic challenges prevailing nationwide.
Daunsi emphasized that factors such as rising inflation, increased operational costs, higher salaries for teaching staff, and the necessity to maintain high-quality education standards compelled the need for fee adjustments. She stressed that these adjustments are crucial to ensure the continued provision of quality education and the sustainability of schools.
Meanwhile, an anonymous civil servant in the Ministry of Education stated that the state government had prohibited government-owned schools from increasing fees.