Concerned parents of Unity College students across the country have appealed to the Federal Government to review the sudden upsurge in fees for their children, in a bid to make education accessible to all.
The concerned parents appealed while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria in separate interviews, in Lagos on Saturday.
It would be recalled that the Federal Government had during the week, increased the fees for new students from N45,000 to N100,000, through a circular issued to principals of unity schools across the country.
According to NAN, one of the concerned parents who spoke with newsmen on the development, Mrs Mitchelle Uzor, a small business owner, said that there was no way children of low-income earners could afford such bills, considering the current economic reality in the country.
According to Mrs Uzor, the unity schools are the last hope for the mass to acquire standard education, without necessarily taking a loan to pay for school fees.
She described the news of the increment as an unprecedented development, noting that she had been saving and preparing for her son, who just graduated from primary school and was ready to gain admission to one of the colleges in Lagos.
“I don’t know what to do now. I am in a state of confusion because I can not afford that kind of money.
“Times are already hard ordinarily. We can barely feed properly and yet we are faced with this kind of news.
“A situation whereby there is no more hope for access to good public schools where we can still find quality education for our children is unacceptable.
“As Nigerians, the only thing that we can gain as proud citizens of this country should be quality education but as we are going, all that seems to fizzle out with all these developments.
“It is not what we expected at this time,” she said.
Similarly, Mrs Funmilayo Olubiyo, a civil servant, condemned the development and called for a review of the fees, noting that the current economic situation of the country is already too much of a burden to bear.
According to her, the government should have put the low-income earners into consideration, before taking such a decision, noting many parents were even struggling to pay the old fees.
“What is happening currently in terms of increase in fees in unity schools and the universities is, to me, uncalled for and ill-timed.
“Those of us with children in unity schools and even universities such as the University of Lagos are still struggling to come to terms with the reality of all these increases in fees.
“How do we cope with all these? Does it mean we should all withdraw our children from school?
”These public schools have been our last resort. At least, we can still boast of the level of education from these schools to a certain level, compared to some others around the country.
“We try to carry on, within our limited resources ensuring that our children are educated.
“Now, with all these hikes in fees, where do we run to, what becomes of these children if most of them are denied access because their parents can no longer afford it?
“Government should please do all it can to reverse the situation. Of course, we must find ways of engaging these young ones meaningfully, as every idle mind is a potential workshop for the devil.
”The country is already struggling with a lot of vices among these,” she started,” she said.
Mrs Olubiyo who advised the government to divert the fund getting from the subsidy removal, to develop the educational sector, said it is wrong to deny the children, the quality education they deserve, while also denying the parents the opportunity to send their wards to quality schools.
However, the Deputy National President, of the natNationalrent Teacher Association of Nigeria, Chief Adeolu Ogunbanjo also called on the Federal Government to review the increase in fees in its institutions, as a means of giving succour to Nigerian parents.
According to him, Nigerians have already been sucking dry, following the removal of subsidy, noting that what the masses need at this critical time, is palliative support to cushion the effect, not the sudden increment of the fee.
“The President must act now. There may be chaos following these hikes, especially with the one at the University of Lagos.
“Government should intervene by directing all these fees to be returned to status quo. Education is the thing the masses are trying to hang on to now, and if you make it unaffordable, then it means we are in for a lot of challenges ahead,” he said.
Addressing the development, Hajia Binta Abdulkadir, Director the of, Senior Secondary Education Department, called for calm, noting that the increase in fees for the unity schools was basically for new students, for the first term only.
According to her, the breakdown of the fees captured uniforms and books, among other educational materials needed by the students.
According to the circular forwarded to NAN, the approved fees for the second and third term for students is N47,000, (boarding fees) inclusive.
However, she noted that the fees were for JSS 1, JSS 2, SS1 and SS2.
It also revealed the fees for the third term for SS3 students as N55,000, while JSS 3 students would pay N46,000, (boarding fees inclusive).
In the first term, SS3 students are required to pay N117,000, inclusive of boarding fees and fees for two of their final examinations.
JS3 students, in the first term, are to pay N87,000, boarding and BECE fees, also inclusive.