How to overcome late payment of your child’s school fees
By Jet Stanley-Madu
Any moment from now, your boy or girl will go back to school, to start a new academic session. The question is: have you got ready his or her school fee? Are you sure? If you’ve not, experts say to ensure that his or her tuition and ancillary fees are ready before school resumes.
This is because late or non- payment of school fee affects your child in a way you never could have thought. This is the view of Dr. Sola Aina, of Department of Education Management, Faculty of Education, Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo.
Speaking in a chat with The Sun Education on why parents should prioritise their children’s education, he disclosed that students suffer emotionally and psychologically when they are sent away from school due to non-payment of school fees.
It makes the students feel ashamed of themselves and of their parents’ inadequacies, he warned. He explained that every school comprises children of the rich, the middle-level income earners and the low-income earners. While the children and middle level officers or civil servants may afford to pay their school fees on time, the case may not be so for children of low-income earners. Hence children of such parents feel the impact more.
“And when this becomes the norm, when it happens over and over again, it sets the children back,” he explained. “It often makes most of them feel withdrawn, not loved and cared for. It also hampers their academic performance. When your children and wards are being sent back home, first, they won’t be getting what they should get, academically. But, when they are in school, they are more imparted.”
He also explained that being home when they ought to be in school can expose them to the danger of juvenile delinquencies, gangsterism and of being conscripted into terror groups etc. For female students, it could lead them to being exploited sexually by men.
But the educationist noted that, ordinarily, average parents would like to pay the school fees on time so that their child can stay in school to get the required education. He attributed the phenomenon of late or non-payment of school fees in recent times, to the harsh economic situation in which we found ourselves.
“It does not necessarily mean that parents do not care about paying their children’s school fees,” he argued. “Of course, they care. But truth is, most parents cannot even feed their children, much less pay their school fees. So, it is the state of the economy. Some families eat once a day, some two times. There’s a general state of depression. But government has a role to play in this.”
Government role in addressing the situation
It can help, he said, by improving the quality of education being delivered in public schools. He opined that such improvement will boost parents’ confidence to send their children and wards to such schools.
“Government generally, both at the federal and state levels, have been talking on the need to improve the quality of education,” he said. “But some governments are not merely talking. A state like Lagos, for instance, has been trying in this regard. But this because Lagos State is better than most of the states in terms of internally generated revenue.
“State governments may not be totally blamed for this. But, they take a fair share because they are the authoritative allocator of resources. It may seem they are not allocating enough. But the issue is which comes first: the chicken or the egg –school fees or food? The total income that the federal government is receiving is about $150,000,000 per month. And I know the federal government has been receiving some monies through some of the funds that were mismanaged. But, because they have not started dispensing that, as a result, many public schools are suffering.”
He asserted that late or non-payment of children’s school fees impacts not only on the students but also on their school. “It does not only affect the students, it affects parents,” he noted. “It affects the school. It affects the overall performance of the school. So, it affects everybody.”
A student’s different experience
Master Sodeinde Segun who just graduated from Pacific College, Egbeda, Lagos, said his parents did not delay or default in paying his school fees.Agreeing with Aina’s viewpoint, he noted that late or non-payment of school fees affects students in many ways. “First, it affects them mentally and makes them feel ashamed and somehow not eager to study. Although some are willing to return to school after their parents pay their fees, some would feel like remaining at home to do stuffs like playing games.”
The young man refused to attribute the development to the alleged issue of high school fees being demanded by school proprietors. He opines that there should always be an alternative. “I suppose there are always other schools in every locality. So, if they find one school’s fees on the high side, they should stop punishing the children. Let them place them in schools that soothe their pocket.”
A school proprietor’s view
Mr. Robert Okpara, Proprietor, Fresh Dew Nursery and Primary School, Ajegunle, Apapa, Lagos, agrees with Sodeinde. “In the area of payment of school fees, our parents here find it difficult to pay,” he informed. “Some, if not most of them, feel they are doing the school a favour by paying their children’s school fees. That is why when they delay or default in paying school fees, they come up with excuses that shouldn’t come up at all. This mentality spills over to several other activities in the school. And that poses serious challenges in operating the school.
“For instance, for some extracurricular activities, they tell you that the school fees have covered every other activity that the child will go through for that school calendar. This has not helped us to adequately hand down to the pupils all that we should hand down to them.”
At Fresh Dew Schools, one of the parents, Mrs. Uche Ezemecha, advised other parents not to see payment of school fees as a burden. Commenting on the importance of investing in our children’s educationm she averred that, “our parents paid our school fees to help us prosper. So, we are to do the same in order to bring out the best in our children.”
Nollywood Actor, Mr. Tony Umez, and Mrs. Fidelia Osuji, who were at the Covenant Child Academy, Ijesha, Surulere, Lagos, recently, to celebrate the graduation of their kids, argued that parents’ quest to send their children and wards to private schools is designed to bequeath them with sound education. Umez noted that the burden of sending children to private schools arose from the decay in government-owned schools.
Like Aina, he attributed most parents’ inability to meet up with the school fees obligation to the national economic downturn. “But I pay promptly because the school has incentives. If you pay, I think within the first three weeks of the holidays, you get some percentage off. So, I take advantage of that. Again, the sort of job I do is not a salaried job. So, as soon as it rolls in, I pay and let that one go, just in case. I think the late payment of school fees has more to do with the times we’re in now.”
On her part, Osuji revealed that their children’s school fees remain a priority in her family. “We have a separate account known as School Fees Account. At the end of the month, immediately my husband earns his salary, he sets aside certain amount of money to be put in that account. As the school is closing, by the following week, I would go and pay their school fees. That is how we’ve been doing it.
“In fact, I will confidently say that I am always one of the first parents to pay our children’s fees. And it is because of this step we have been taking. However, I sincerely think it has to do with priorities –setting your priorities right. I can’t imagine a situation where my child has to be sent out of class and school because of school fees – the embarrassment, humiliation, how he or she will feel. It can be terrible. So, before Christmas, before any celebration, we make sure we pay the school fees of our children first. I believe every other parents should find a way of making payment of school fees easier for their children.”
Mrs. Ayoola Raliat, one of parents of the graduating students from Pacific College, ascribed the problem of late or non-payment of school fees to two factors. First, during time of payment, the parents might be financially constrained. Secondly, it could be as a result of exorbitant fees being charged by private school operators. “Otherwise, I don’t think there is any parent that would not want to invest in his or her child’s education. The remedy is for parents to make their children’s education a priority. We have to know that when the children are sent away from school, it affects them in many ways.”