Parents reject Lagos govt justification for fee hike
The coalition of chairmen and secretaries of the Parents’ Forums of the 32 junior and senior model colleges and upgraded secondary schools run by Lagos State has rejected the government’s justification for increasing boarding fees from N25,000 to N50,000.
Following the group’s petition to the Lagos State House of Assembly last week, the Lagos State Ministry of Education appealed to parents to understand why the government has to increase the boarding fees.
The Education Commissioner, Mrs. Folasade Adefisayo said in a statement that the increment would be the first in 18 years by the government. She added that at N73.30k per meal, the N25,000 was insufficient to provide a balanced diet for growing children.
The statement reads: “The resolve to peg the boarding fees at N50,000 per term is premised on the realisation that the state government will bear N75,000 subsidy per child; while the school will receive subventions per term to cater for the expected gaps.
“Feeding a child at N73.30k per meal is not healthy for growth; hence the government cannot be running a boarding system with same amount that has been in place for over 18 years. The state government runs a free education policy, pays all public school students’ external examinations fees, provides and maintains infrastructure while parents of Model College students are only levied for the students’ feeding and maintenance.”
The statement also noted that some parents showed understanding for government stance.
However, the parents shot back, saying the N25,000 would have been sufficient if the funds were not being allegedly mismanaged by principals who they claimed paid kickbacks to higher officials.
Their leader, Mr. Dapo Dawodu, a surveyor, said the increment would be suicidal especially for parents with more than one child in the boarding school who also earned the minimum wage of N30,000.
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He also rejected government’s claim that parents agreed to pay the N50,000, saying the parents only want the fees increased to not more than N30,000.
He said: “The present N25, 000 paid by each student had long been mismanaged, full of fraudulent and unaccounted expenses. There is need for audit of the money.
“N25, 000 per student times 1,000 students will give you N25 million. The principal in each school is the only administrator and signatory to the account; and spend it at their mercy.
The minimum wage is N30, 000 and you expect a parent on N30, 000 salary with three children in model colleges to pay N50, 000 × 3 = N150, 000 plus other personal expenses and house rent without engaging in stealing or fraudulent act to cover up for such outrageous expenses.
“The coalition of Parent Forum Chairman and executives of Lagos State Model College has presented parents’ unanimous decision of an upward review to N30, 000 which is all inclusive of hostel requirements and ancillaries per student. The body also requested the inclusion of parents who are professionals in kitchen management in the school kitchen affairs as the principals are teachers and not kitchen professionals. The Coalitions of PF of LSMC also demand the inclusion of parent body in the administration of the fees paid by students. This will enable proper needs and accountability’’.
The parents through Coalition of PF executives, also called for the thorough audit of the accounts of all Model Colleges in Lagos State.
Dawodu said every term pupils are required to resume school with some hygiene items including, two of each of Dettol, Izal, Airfreshner, Harpic, detergent (1kg), as well as cutlass, rake, stick broom, 1 pack of tissue paper and others, which cannot be exhausted by the schools.. each of them describing it as a corruption pipeline.
“When you calculate and multiply these items by 1,000 students you discover there is fraud in this area too. These items are collected from students for just 70 days. All these items are shared among the officials that are calling for feeding fee increase,” he said.
This post was written by Kofoworola Belo-Osagie and was first published at thenationonlineng.net