Parenthood usually comes with many teething challenges. Provision of basic necessities of life to the children, catering for their health, wellbeing and essentially spiritual needs are among the things that could torture parents. However, in spite of the inevitabilities of these other needs, it seems that none could be approximated with the demands of school training.
Schooling leaves in its trail tension, stress and financial implications. And as school resumes after the long holidays ahead of new academic session, many parents now face demanding tasks. The situation is expected because children going to new classes require replacement of almost everything.
Some parents in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) confessed the challenges to send their wards back to school. They didn’t make any concrete plan for the resumption because of the poor economic situation in the country. Others said in time past, they would have settled their children’s tuition before resumption of a new academic session but are trapped in the web of the present harsh economic realities.
A businessman resident in Jabi, Muhammad Adamu, admitted that things have been very rough and tough for the family. He lamented that his children could not even enroll for vacation classes because he could not afford the fees, and stressed that the harsh economy has affected everybody; including businessmen:
“It is not easy to feed now, let alone settle other bills. It is not going to be easy sending the children back to school this session because things are very tough. Since the day my wife reminded me of the resumption, I have not been myself. I know it is monetary sickness because my brain has not rested, calculating how and where to get money.
“We have two children in secondary, two in primary schools. This is a new academic year that almost all their things need to be replaced; including the uniforms. I decided to go to the market to shop for some of their materials not sold in their schools. The prices were so high; I went to check on their fairly used ones, to my greatest surprise, again, they were still higher.
“I just had to buy the ones I could afford for now. We have not even talked about books and school fees we are required to buy and pay immediately the school resumes. I am still calculating how to go about it, because I have been unnecessarily angry these days, all because of how to send them back to school.”
Another parent, Caroline Oko, who lives in Utako District of the FCT, admitted that it would be really tough sending the children back to school considering the present economic situation. She explained that they have three children already in primary school with the last born ready to join them this term.
They may have to sacrifice the resumption of the little one till second term in January next year to reduce the expenditure burden of paying for the school fees and buying books: “We have been crying for the school to resume because we are tired of having the children at home. It has now resumed and everybody is now running helter-skelter.
“Most parents have turned emergency economists. We have three children in primary school while the last one is expected to join them this term. But the way things are going, we have concluded to keep him at home till next term because we cannot meet up with all their demands.”
A hair dresser in Kubwa, an FCT suburb, Blessing Akpan, said it won’t be easy for children returning to school this session because of the rough situation facing her family. She added that she used to prepare the kids’ materials before resumption but this session is different:
“If they have to resume with their peers, I will have to follow them to school to plead with the school authority to allow them use their old books until I am able to get new ones for them to transfer whatever they have copied into the old to the new ones.”
Civil servants are not spared as Timothy Ochoche agreed: “I know it is not easy but it is a necessity and it calls for discipline. I have been able to pay for their fees but for their books, I will collect from the school on credit. Every other thing like school bags and sandals will be put on hold for now.”
Some traders who deal on school materials like bags, sandals, lunch boxes and books also decried poor patronage due to the same economic hardship. Others blamed schools for selling books and other materials.
A bookshop owner at Wuse Market, Henry Sesugh, said, “patronage was too poor; compared with previous years. Sales were encouragingly high this time previous years compared to this year. It is an entirely different thing. Things are very tough.”
Another dealer, Kelechi Nonye, agreed that there is economic hardship, but blamed the poor patronage on school owners: who are frustrating bookshop businesses because of greed.
“I know that things are hard but our main problem is from school owners. They want to eat theirs and what belongs to other people. They collect school fees it was not enough for them. They started selling books and other learning materials. Before you see anyone buying books now from the bookshop is very difficult, they have crippled our business.”
However a banker, John Terfa, said though the economic situation is somehow tough, he has settled all his children’s tuition before the resumption because he had them in mind and diligently planed for it:
“The school expenditure is always my priority, l have settled everything. I was not carried away by the lengthy break. They will be fully back to class. One of the reasons parents are lamenting today is because most of them refused to plan.”
Another parent resident in Jabi, Frank Corke, said although it is not easy, “when you have it as your priority, you must have a way out. I have settled my wards’ tuition during the break, although it was not easy. However, I have done it because it was my priority.”