Christmas and New Year holidays have ended. And the journey of another 12 months has begun. Fear of survival usually grips Nigerians at the beginning of January due huge bills to be paid. Besides, huge expenses have been incurred during the yuletide for a memorable time with friends and family members.
However, families or parents that made adequate plans for January always have it easier and those that did otherwise are left to suffer the consequences of not planning ahead.
However, no matter the situation, life must go on, people must eat and wear clothes, rent must be paid and children must return to school and that means that schools would demand tution fees.
Traditionally, schools in Abuja, and probably across other states in Nigeria, reopen for the academic session a few days after New Year’s Day and, in line with the tradition, the 2019 academic session has commenced.
Expectedly, students have resumed school, except for those with peculiar reasons that would keep them away from school. For many parents and guardians, the thought of school resumption is accompanied by fear and anxiety over financial obligations.
It was for this reason that some schools, particularly the private schools, have developed strategies, some in form of insurance, that would help parents pay their children’s school fees without stress.
But a good number of parents who spoke to our correspondent confessed that, in spite of several plans ahead of January, life and living have been tough because of several demands in the face of inadequate resources.
A resident of Jabi, Abuja, Moses Adamu, confessed that 2018 was a very tough year for him economically and that led to his inability to settle his children’s school fees and other bills before school resumption.
“I have five children, two are in secondary school while the other three are still in primary school. I used to settle their school fees early before resumption but I couldn’t do that this time. We hoped that, with electioneering period around the corner, there would be a boost in economic activities. But that has not been so. I am scared they might be sent home from school,” he said.
Another parent, Charles Baba, said he was grateful to God for the success of the previous term and was optimistic that the new term that just started would also bring great academic success for his children.
He confessed that school resumption was always a nightmare for him, especially the first term, when parents spend lots of money because of the progress of their wards to a new class or new school.
He said: “I am not paying for books this term. But I still have to settle school fees, which come in thousands of naira. My children just resumed school and I am highly optimistic that I will pay their school fees before the end of January,” he said.
A widow who sells foodstuff in Utako Market, Adah Blessing, said her case was similar to the other respondents: “Are we not in the same country where unemployment and poverty have grown beyond imagination? Economy has obviously collapsed and the consequence is increased hardship and poor standard of living.”
She explained that it was not a new academic year but there were other financial needs outside the school fees that she would have to meet.
“Economic activities in Abuja have not stabilized. Election campaigns are on but we can’t feel the economic benefit,” she said.
On his part, Titus Ebute, a banker, admitted that Nigeria’s economic situation was tough but he has offset all his children’s tuition before the resumption because he planned for it before the festive period. He did not get carried away by the celebrations.
He said: “The school expenditures was what I did before venturing into their Christmas gifts. I have settled everything and they are back to the classroom. One of the reasons why parents are lamenting today is because most of them refused to plan. Some went for extravagant celebration to the detriment of their children’s academics.”
A parent, Frank Chile, from Jabi, agreed that most parents don’t plan ahead for their children and that was why they faced alot of difficulties in paying school fees.
He said: “I settled my children’s school fees the very day school resumed. It was not easy but I have done it because it was my priority.”