By Adesina Wahab
Barely two weeks after some sections of primary and secondary schools reopened in some parts of the country, most proprietors are now at war with parents and their teachers over the issue of money.
Some proprietors are battling parents and guardians over demands for fees for the third term of the inconclusive 2019/20 academic session, even though the schools resumed for the 2020/21 session.
Also, the decision by some school owners not to pay a full month salary to some of their teachers who resumed is creating bad blood in many schools.
Checks by Vanguard showed that apart from demanding fees for the third term of last session, some proprietors are asking parents, whose children did not take part in online classes organised during the lockdown, to pay for such.
Many of the affected parents have taken to different platforms complain narrating their experiences in the hands of school owners.
A parent, Nkiru John, who spoke with our correspondent, narrated how the proprietor of her children’s school demanded that pupils should pay for the third term of last session as well as the first term of the new session.
“The development is not only unfair, it is inconsiderate. The impact of the Coronavirus pandemic is on every sector, but these school owners are behaving as if the harsh economic condition foisted on the society only affects them and not others.
“There are many families where one or both parents have lost their jobs, to now say such parents should pay for a service their children did not enjoy is criminal. How can they ask parents to do so
“I learned some schools are even asking parents to pay for the so-called online classes that were held during the lockdown. The classes that in most cases ran for less than two hours a day.
These are happening because the state government is not properly regulating the system. The government is only after levies and taxes they are collecting from the proprietors,”she said.
Commenting on the development, an official of the Lagos State Ministry of Education, not authorised to speak on the matter, said the government could not have regulated what the schools would charge for their services.
“Our main duty is to ensure the schools measure up in term of quality and safety issues. Also, that they comply with laid down rules and regulations. How much they charge for their services is not our business and it it not by force for parents to send their wards whose fees they cannot afford,” he stated. In the same vein, the National President of the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools, NAPPS, ‘Otunba Yomi Otubela, said private schools do not have uniform fee regime.
“No one cap fits the bill. Some schools demand one third of their normal fees for the third term, some higher percentage. The reason why schools are asking for third term fees is that there is no automatic promotion of students to the next class. Going by the directive from the government and that means each school would have to blend third term and first term work.
“In fact, in most cases, schools have to use the first six weeks of this new term to do third term work and use the remaining weeks for the first term work of this new session. Some schools have done a good percentage of the third term work online during the lockdown.
“However, what each school demands depends on the management and the agreement reached with parents and guardians. But the fact is that whoever is not feeling comfortable with the charges in a particular school can move on. School owners also have commitments to meet,” he said.
This is just as teachers are also not pleased with the stance of some proprietors not to pay them full salary for the month of September.
Some of the teachers, who took to various platforms, such as the Concerned Parents and Educators, CPE, said having not got full salary or no salary for almost six months, the owners should be considerate and pay them full salary for the month not minding that they worked for a little over two weeks.
They hinged their argument on the premise that the proprietors demanded full fees payment from parents.
The situation may lead to some teachers leaving their jobs or changing employment.