By Fortune Okorie, Port Harcourt
The 2018/19 academic years has since kicked off but most private school owners in Rivers State seem to habour fear and panic as the response of parents towards their children’s school fees seems sluggish. So far, they seem not to make up to half of the amount they usually make by this time in the new session.
The worst-hit seems to be the big schools that charge in millions of naira per year. One of the proprietors said on telephone that she has found it difficult to raise as little as N10,000 out of pocket expenses even as a CEO of a big school.
Others say students have returned without caring about paying fees. Those who insisted on fees before entering the school have found that their schools are now empty.
A BusinessDay interview with some parents and school owners disclosed a state of panic and despair. Chuks Onuigbo, the proprietor of Destiny Academy, bemoaned that the response of parents towards the school fees of their children dropped drastically as this new academic session began.
He said; “Most parents in my school used to pay their children fees even before the session would begin, but two weeks has already gone in this session and many have not even made attempt. I am scared of how I will even pay my workers as month ends”.
Esther Osai, another school owner, also cried out revealing her fears as this new academic session began. “Two weeks into school resumption and I have not seen most of my students. When I asked, some said that there going to school this term was under probability because they do not have money to buy school accessories let alone schools fees. This will affect my income this term as the fate of many has not been decided”.
Further speaking, a parent Mary Akubo, said that as a parent she did not have special interest in keeping her children from school but due many challenges she faced. These ranged from getting a new school uniform, buying school bag, school books and most importantly paying school fees.
She said; “Having five children in school, the bills are much on me and my husband so I have decided to come and enroll some of my children to go and acquire skills which seems cheaper and thus reducing the number of students in school.”