SOBER ON MY KNEES ON THE LORD’S DAY: THE BURDEN OF SCHOOL FEES, THE NIGERIAN PARENTS AND SOCIAL PROTECTION ADVOCACY

There is this conversation about parents paying and owing school fees. Many schools today groan under the heavy weight of being owed school fees.

It has also come to my notice that some parents owe a school and when they are not able to pay move their children to another school and leave the debt behind. I find that some parents may do this like 5 times or more with primary and secondary schools tenure of the child.

There are even training programs on the technical know-how of how to timely collect school fees from parents.

Some schools, who are well established close the gates of the schools against parents who have not paid from day one of resumption after the long vacation. Many other give parents till mid-term before they begin to enforce payment.

Our precious children have been subjected to almost irrecoverable embarrassment and dehumanization when they are singled out in class or sent packing in the presence of other multitude of other students because their parents have not performed the school fees obligation.

Parents have been called different and unprintable names from irresponsible, shameless, non-challant and all.

Yes, I completely agree without an iota of disagreement that parents must pay their children’s school fees on or before it is due.

I also agree that private schools in Nigeria are solving a critical problem of providing education, upon the departure of the public school system.

I also admit that the school business is not as lucrative as many think it is for those who are true educationists and would like to deliver the best value to the precious children registered with them. Therefore school fees need to be paid for private schools to even survive not to talk not breaking even or making profit in a hostile economic environment like ours, where running an organisation of any kind is a dicey and demanding endeavour there is no such thing as state support. People run their homes like local government chairmen not to talk of their businesses.

While I also agree that some parents do irresponsibly withold school fees, I also feel the pain of a legion of parents that the burden of school fees can be so heavy no matter how much parents plan.

Why? School fees is not a choice that the Nigerian parents made. It is a faith accompli carefully designed by the state and it’s government in its gross abandonment of its responsibilities under her social contract with the people.

We live in a country where 46% of our 180M population are below 15 years of age. Yet 87 million Nigerians are living on less than one $1.9 per day…There is a major problem.

The short-term solution may be to encourage parents to pay school fees but the long-term solution will be an agitation for the creation and enforcement of Social Protection.

There is no meaningful nation on earth where the responsibilities of raising children is solely on the shoulders of the parents both rich and poor.

Take it or leave, both history and social practices, the world over bear me witness that no parents are endowed enough to bring the best out of their children in the absence the other 3 parenting institutions.

Private school should be a choice for those who can afford it, particularly in search of luxury services beyond what public school provides, noting that public schools should be available to all, particularly at the primary and secondary school levels in the nations of the future.

But alas the choice of registering their precious children in private schools is a foisted compulsion in the face of our collapsed education system which neither provides quality education fit to advance our precious children to reap the benefits of the 21st nor give access to 13.5 million precious Nigerian children that are out of school today.

It is my well considered opinion that Parents’ rights are children’s rights and both children and parents’ rights are constitutional rights, the highest form of rights.

I was a public child. My education from primary to university was not a burden to my parents. My primary and secondary education was a collaborative effort between the missionaries and government. My school fees in Lagos State University, where I read law and we had a separate and well-equipped library to ourselves as law undergraduates was N90.00(ninety Naira). That same school few years later demanded N250,000(two hundred and fifty thousand Naira) as tuition fees.

What I received as education was not the best in the world but was the best available at that time because the children of the rich, middle class and poor and those in government made it to same school. The incentive to deliver value in the public school was there because those who owned and regulated the school at the level of governments had their precious children in those schools.

We need not look too far to see the possibility of what we advocate here as SOCIAL PROTECTION. The most recent example is RWANDA, taking the giant lead in the last 18 years to revive public education and make it available to the majority of the populace…

The fruits of the labor of the RWANDAN effort and model is already been seen in a bountiful form and celebrated not only in Africa but also the world over…

I think it is time to put culpability where culpability belongs and do the SOCIAL PROTECTION ADVOCACY, aimed at freeing the over-burdened Nigerian parents from the shackles of being guilty as charged just for being parents.

Do have an INSPIRED week.

I am Taiwo AKINLAMI and I remain Sober on My Kneels this LORD’s day as I do SOCIAL PROTECTION ADVOCACY now and forevermore.

(C) 2020 by Taiwo ‘ODINAKACHUKWU’ AKINLAMI…All Rights Reserved
T: 2348033620843, 08056979605 W: http://www.taiwoakinlami.comT: @taiwoakinlami E: Principal@taiwoakinlami.com

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