Indications emerged on Thursday that some schools have adopted drastic measures to retain pupils and survive the harsh operating environment.
School managers in Ogun and Lagos states, who spoke to our correspondent, said they had adopted some options, including slashing of tuition, offering ‘saving incentives’ to parents and limiting overseas excursions.
For instance, the KICC International School, a faith-based institution at Maryland, Lagos State, has slashed its tuition by 50 per cent to ‘give back to the society’. Two officials of the school, who declined to identify themselves, confirmed the development on Thursday. One of them said the management of the school made the decision after a series of complaints from parents.
She said, “The school is new and we decided to give a 50 per cent discount on tuition. Fifty per cent discount is a lot on anything. We are a charity organisation and it is our core mandate to give back to the society. So, recession or no recession, we are giving back to the society.”
The KIS is not alone. In Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, the Principal, Premier College, Mr. Iyke Okpe, said the recession had presented private schools with difficult choices. According to him, one of the tough choices for many schools offering scholarships to indigent pupils is whether to stop the programme entirely. He added that his school had to introduce savings incentives with the aim of reducing tuition.
“Recession is a fact of life in Nigeria now and no one is more hit than private school operators who are facing very tough times choosing between continuing to educate non-paying pupils and throwing them out. For most schools, including ours, we recognise the challenge brought by the depressed economic situation and so we are offering savings incentives to parents.
“These savings ultimately reduce our fees to the benefit of our parents while we struggle to ensure services are stabilised for a great education experience by the youngsters. We have a responsibility to support our parents at this time and I think our school and some others are of reducing fees to ensure parents are not unnecessarily inconvenienced for sending their wards to good schools,’’ he said.
While Dowen College, Lekki, Lagos, has not slashed its tuition, its Vice-Principal, Mr. Muraina Olusesi, told our correspondent that visits by pupils to foreign countries would be shelved because of the difficulty in sourcing forex.
“Our basic programme is still in place because we believe in quality education. Most parents understand that they will need to priortise, they know that quality education for their children is important. We cannot cut corners because we believe in quality. We should be able to carry out all our programmes for the session. However, foreign excursions might not be feasible for now. We will limit our site visits to places within the country because of the forex scarcity,” he said.
The Chief Executive Officer, Edumark Consult, Mrs. Yinka Ogunde, said the recession would have a tremendous effect on school operations. She also predicted that parents who were high-income earners would not be exempted from the effects of the harsh economy.
“A lot of schools have started cutting school fees, offering discounts and gradual payment plans to parents. The reality is that recession is here and it is going to be a major issue in school operations. It is also going to cut across parents who are low and high-income earners. So, you will see many schools planning a way out of the situation,’’ she said.
However, some parents have expressed concerns that a reduction in tuition may result in the lowering of standards. Some of them who expressed their concerns wondered where the schools would get revenue to pay their workers and maintain their facilities.
A parent, Lola Folarin, said that the development was a marketing strategy to retain parents.
She said, “Something is wrong somewhere. Are they going to reduce staff salaries or reduce the quality of education? I think it is desperation on how to retain and entice new parents. I have about two schools around my house also doing that. They claim it is scholarship or discount.’’