By Umar Abubakar
The month of September always comes to Nigerian parents with nostalgia, not because of its being the first among the ‘ember’ months, but because it is the month Nigerian pupils and students of primary and secondary schools across the country resume schools and first timers get enrolled.
It is the first month of the First Term of primary and secondary schools that comes with such great expectations on the parents whose children are in turn expected to pay exorbitant school fees including in most cases, uniforms, sports wears, tuition, books and other instructional materials.
Usually, the coming of the month of September brings such fear and general financial demand on parents, especially nowadays that the school fees have actually gone rocket high.
Investigations reveal that most parents, especially those with two children and above of school age, are forced by the financial and economic circumstances of the day, to go cap in hand, begging from friends and relations that are considered better off financially for assistance to solve this perennial problem.
Not only that, it is revealed that it is in the month of August, just before September, that parents and guardians alike apply and sort for all forms of loans, overdrafts and so on from banks in order to meet up with their huge financial demands.
Our independent investigation also revealed that while the parents and guardians are finding the month of September real tough, the school proprietors are on the other hand at their best. They are always looking forward to the coming of September which comes with such assurances of fat bank accounts, as parents and guardians rush to pay and secure places for children and wards.
DESERT HERALD discovered that some school proprietors operating in rented properties usually target the month of September, when they are at their financial best, to buy land, start or continue construction of their permanent sites.
September of 2014 has come with all these problems to the parents and guardians but with even more. This is following the postponement of the resumption date for primary and secondary schools across the geographical entity called Nigeria.
It could be recalled that the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) was first noticed in Nigeria in August and federal government through the Education Minister, Ibrahim Shekarau, announced the postponement of schools resumption date from the first or second weeks of September to October 13. This, according to the federal government, was to safeguard the children against the disease, as it is said to be highly contagious through sweat, semen, saliva, blood, vomit, and other bodily fluids.
The federal government’s decision was welcome by most parents and especially the teachers, who believe that their pupils and students will come from far and near and controlling them such that body contracts are minimized once they are brought together is next to impossible.
The parents/guardians on their part heaved heavy sighs of relief, knowing that apart from protecting their children and wards, the postponement has provided yet another opportunity and more time to work harder and save more to be able to pay for their children’s schools fees as expected. Many parents have even committed the monies saved for the purpose of settling the school fees to other equally important ventures, thinking they will use the October salary as a replacement, when suddenly the federal government, again through the Education Minister, announced that primary and secondary schools across Nigeria will now resume on September 22, instead of October 13 as earlier announced.
This announcement has thrown most parents off balance, while the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the Health Workers Union thought it was actually a wrong decision with the potential of putting the children directly in the way of danger. The teachers believe that they cannot handle and take responsibility in case of any outbreak in any part of the country, while the health workers fear that they may not be able to contain the situation should there be any outbreak of EVD from the schools. The teachers have even threatened go on strike should the federal government insist that schools must reopen by September 22.
Madam Sarah is a school teacher based here in Kaduna. She told DESERT HERALD that personally she is with her union (NUT). “If the federal government insists on the September 22 reopening date, we should go on strike and see who will teach the children.
“We should understand that the schools are only for the healthy and the living. Of what importance is the rush to reopen the schools when there are doubts that the threats of the dreaded EVD are still not completely averted?’’ she asked.
Similarly, Alhaji Yandoma, a parent, said he has actually made provision for the school fees of his seven (7) children, but that he had to divert it to other uses when the resumption date was postponed.
“As a business man we don’t keep idle money, we always invest in ventures we consider profitable. I had the money and I was ready to pay when the announcement for the postponement came. I have seven (7) children that go to expensive private schools so the money is very much. I have to invest it somehow,” he said.
Yandoma said he could not raise the money to pay for his children’s school fees in just two weeks, because the money is plenty.
“I cannot on my own bring out the money to pay the school fees of my children, which is plenty. I mean two weeks is just too close for that. If the government insists on September 22, then I will have to start looking for loan and that will be inconveniencing,” Yandoma concluded.
Meanwhile, as at the time of writing these report Nigerians are still waiting for the outcome of the meeting of the National Assembly with the members of the NUT and Health Workers Union slated for Monday September 15, which seeks to find a lasting solution to the lingering disagreement and confusion ones and for all.