Private Schools in Nigeria Stall Fee Hikes Amid Soaring Living Costs

As primary and secondary schools resume after the Christmas and New Year holidays, private school operators in Nigeria are opting to freeze fee increases to ease the financial burden on families grappling with escalating living expenses.

Teachers and school owners across various regions, including Akute in Ogun State and Port Harcourt in Rivers State, are making strategic decisions to retain students by holding off on raising school fees. Maureen Chukwu, a teacher in Akute, emphasized the necessity of alleviating financial strain on parents amid inflationary pressures, revealing that her school has refrained from increasing fees this term. Additionally, cost-cutting measures, such as canceling the use of school buses, have been implemented to sustain the business.

In Port Harcourt, Mercy Nnokwam, a school owner, echoed this sentiment, stating that her school has decided to pause fee increases due to the adverse effects experienced after the last fee hike. Instead, the focus is on maintaining existing fees and enhancing teachers’ welfare to ensure stability.

However, not all schools are following the same path. A teacher in Ikotun, Lagos State, mentioned plans to increase fees, acknowledging its role in sustaining the business. Despite parental hesitance, the increase is viewed as a cautious measure.

Meanwhile, Headstart Private School in Oshodi-Isolo, Lagos State, is taking a proactive approach to mitigate the economic impact on parents and staff. The school is offering a 10 percent discount to students and has increased teachers’ salaries to cover transportation costs.

Multiconcept College in Isheri, Lagos, is individually reaching out to students to reaffirm its commitment, with promises of increased salaries for teachers from January.

Parents interviewed expressed concerns over the high cost of living and its implications for their children’s education. Rising prices for essential items, coupled with stagnant salaries, contribute to the challenges faced by families.

As Nigeria grapples with an annual inflation rate of 28.9 percent (as of November 2023, the highest since August 2005), parents and educators alike navigate the complexities of sustaining education in an increasingly challenging economic environment. The ripple effects of inflation impact various sectors, including education, prompting stakeholders to adapt and address the evolving landscape.

Quest: Cris-Edesiri Odjomah

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