The most challenging school resumption period for most parents and caregivers seems to be in January. For obvious reasons, January resumption usually takes most parents unaware due to series of festivities that precede the month.
As usual, the journey of another 12 months has begun after the end of Christmas and New Year holidays. Expectedly, fear of survival grips most Nigerians at the beginning of January due to huge bills to pick and psychological feeling that January month lasts very long.
Apart from the huge expenses made during the Yuletide for memorable times with friends and family members, school fees for the children contribute to the fears of parents.
While most families or parents that make adequate plans for the month of January always have their way, those that do otherwise are left to gnash their teeth and suffer the consequences of lack of planning.
Schools reopened for academic session few days after the New Year celebration, commencing the traditional second term of the 2019/2020 academic session. The thought of school resumption always comes with fear and anxiety to most parents.
It was for this reason that some schools predominantly the privately owned ones developed strategies/plans in form of insurance that would help parents pay their children school fees without stress.
However, a good number of parents confessed to Daily Sun that in spite of several plans they made ahead of January, coping with life has always been tough due to several demands competing for the inadequate resources.
A resident of Kuje, Okon John, said 2019 was not too good for him economically, leading to his inability to settle his children school fees and other bills before school resumption:
“I have five children, two in secondary school while the rest three are still in the 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 boost in economic activities. But that has not been seen. I am scared they might be forced to return home from school.”
Abdullah Usman, a resident of Nyanya, was prepared for the second term resumption before something happened and diverted the money: “I normally prepare ahead of every term for my children’s school fees and provisions for those living in school but this year, it took another dimension because my mother took ill in December and all the money that I have saved went into keeping her alive. This is the second week of resumption yet my wards have not returned to school because I have not been able to settle their bills.”
Joseph Addy was thankful and grateful to God for the success of the previous term, expressing optimism that the new term that just started will also be a great academic success for his children.
He however confessed that school resumption is always a nightmare for him especially first term when parents spent lots of money because of the movement of the children to new classes or possibly new school:
“I am not paying for books this term. But I still have to settle school fees, which come in thousands of naira. However, my children just resumed school and I am highly optimistic that I will pay their school fees before the end of January.”
A businessman in Utako market, Sesugh Age, said: “Are we not in the same country where unemployment and poverty have grown beyond imagination? Economy has obviously collapsed and the consequences are increased hardship and poor standard of living.”
He explained that though it is not a new academic year, there are, however, other financial needs outside the school fees to meet: “Economic activities in Abuja have not stabilised. Election campaigns came and went but we could not feel the economic benefit of it.”
Another parent, Caroline Oko, confessed that it is really tough sending the children back to school considering the economic situation. She explained that they have three children in primary school which the last one was supposed to join them this term because they couldn’t enrol him last year but from the look of things they have decided to still keep him at home for the expenses to be less:
“We have been crying that we are tired of having these children at home, that school should resume. It has now resumed and everybody is now running up and down, most parents have turned emergency economist by force. Our last child that we agreed will resume school January but with the way things are going, he still can’t start this term.”
A civil servant, Henry Solomon, admitted that though economic situation is tough, he has settled all his children’s tuition before resumption because he planned for it. He said he did not allow himself to be carried away by the celebration:
“The school expenditures were what I did before venturing into their Christmas gifts. I have settled everything and they are back to school. One of the reasons parents are lamenting today is because most of them refused to plan. Some went for extravagant celebration at the detriment of their children’s academics.”
Another parent, Anthony Zeruwa, from Dutse, argued most parents don’t plan ahead for their children school resumption and that was why they face difficulties in paying their school fees:
“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. Nobody is saying that the economic situation in the country is favourable but when you make something your priority, you must achieve it.
“Most Nigerians believe in miracles, they don’t plan nor work towards their goals, that is why every term you hear parents crying and lamenting on the cost of fees and things needed by the children to get back to school.”