New teachers, new friends, new shoes, new notebooks, and sometimes, a new school. There are surely ‘new’ worries on both side of the divide as children return to the classroom after a long break,Taiwo Akintunde writes about challenges of parents and school administrators as children return to the classroom this week
Most teachers at Nigeria’s elementary and high schools are extra busy this week. They are busy studying their new students. They will interact less with the chalk board and put their gaze on their pupils. It is not different for the pupils too. They are busy checking out their new teacher, new friend and the class where they are now.
But for parents the challenges are different. They are busy with cost and time management. For instance tuition fees have increased and working mothers who had previously had one child in School and now sending another child to join will need more money and more time.
Uju Odunsi mother of two boys, Sean, four years old and Jason one year and nine months old who attend Samfad Private School in Itire area of Lagos State said that enrolling her youngest son, Jason into the school is a major challenge for her because that implies additional expenses for her and her husband. “We have the family budget that myself and my husband jointly prepare at the beginning of the months. We had based our budget on one child in School, but now with youngest child starting schooling, we have to double our efforts to ensure there is no problem. Though it is challenging but we have to deal with that,” she said.
She also added that another major challenge for her is meeting up with the little time she has to prepare the children for school and as well get to work on time. She said, “I have to do the domestic work at home, prepare the kids for school and ensure I get to work on time to avoid being queried at the office. It means waking up much earlier than I am used to,” she said.
Another parent who shared her experience, a Mechanical Engineer Mr. Dawodu Arogundade, father of three children said that since his wife was transferred from Lagos to Ogun State on official duty four months ago, the challenges that awaits him in the new school session is preparing the children for school, and paying up their fees which has equally increased. “My wife, Mrs. Atinuke who works as an accountant in a company, has been transferred to Ogun State and that is going to be a tough challenge for me because I now have three children to take care of and make sure they are ready for school everyday while I also plan to resume at my workshop as early as nine o’clock. Though it is good sign for her to be promoted and be transferred at the same time but that is a huge challenge for me to bear. Amongst other things I also have to ensure their school fees are paid promptly. Last week, I received a letter from their school, there is 10 percent increase in their school fees and that is just at the primary level. So that is another challenge for me,” he said.
A journalist, Mr. Bimbo Akosile, father of two sons said that the resumption of the new school session presents him and his wife a great challenge because they now have to wake earlier than usual to get them ready for school. He also mentioned that increase in school fees is another issue to deal with. “As a journalist, while I have to see to my editorial responsibilities, I also look after my children because I assist my wife at home and getting the kids to school is one of those assistance. The irony of this is that while there is increase in school fees and other financial budget in the family, income is static and I think that is a major challenge for me as a family man. I also have to pay other academic bills for them such as the extra mural studies, excursion and other activities that attracts fees in the school,” he said.
Though, her daughter, Nelly, 9 years old who is in primary five resides and school in Asaba, Delta State with the aunt, Mrs. Ebere Nwiro said that the only hitch she feels every year is financing the daughter’s schooling. She also said that, “though she stays with my sister in Asaba but financing her schooling there is a major responsibility for us. There is increment in school fees every year because she has to graduate from one class to another until she is finally through with her primary education. I think for now that is the only challenge my husband and I are facing in the area of support for our children. Our second daughter is still young and isn’t in school yet but we are sure to adjust to the changes when she begins,” She added.
In Ogijo, Ikorodu area of Lagos, Mr. Oyefusi Idowu, whose children, Abiodun and Mariam are in primary school also confirmed that his major challenge this new academic session is finance adding that he has received a letter from the school notifying him of the new increment in school fees. “Apart from these I also need to purchase new set of text books for them because they are now in a different class from last session. Getting them to school may not be a problem because there is the school bus picking them up at home but we have to be out of bed early in order to meet up with the bus. However, I and my wife also now have to monitor their activities in school, their performance in class as well as ensuring their home work is done as at when due,” he added.
When THISDAY visited some schools, Cemak Nursery and Primary School in Itire area is one of those schools gearing up for the new session. School Secretary, Mrs. Adebimpe Oshinowo who was on ground during the visit to the school said that last session was an eventful one for the school as the population of the school grew to an encouraging figure adding that it is as a result of the new academic strategies adopted by the school administration to improve the quality service rendered. She said, “Last session, we had several Parents/Teachers Association (P.T.A.) meetings and that really helped us get some feed back on how to serve them better. We ensured that our teachers give in their best and follow the curriculum duly,” she said.
Talking on the challenges faced by the school, Oshinowo said that late payment of school fees on the part of some parents as well as absence from school on the part of some pupils were the major challenges faced by the school last session and it is expected that at the start of a new school year especially coming at the middle of the months, parents may delay payments of school levies.
Students at Royal Star Comprehensive College, Itire, also shared their thoughts on the new school year. Adams Nwahukwu, 17, a Senior
Secondary School 3 student told THISDAY that he’s anxious to return to school after such a long break and looking forward to finishing his academics at the secondary school level. He noted that the school has been of huge impact on him academically since he enrolled into the Junior Secondary School class. “Sometimes we get difficult tasks from our teachers and we never want to return to school but oftentime my parents will tell me the school is only trying to breed me for my own good and since then, I never ignore any instruction or assignment given to me by my teacher,” he said.
The school proprietress, Mrs. Abimbola Fadeyi told THISDAY that the school, being located in a densely populated area was found to meet the academic demands of the residents in the area. She also said that sometimes, the school is faced with the challenge of space to accommodate more intakes. “As a school owner and administrator, I find this profession pleasing because we have to impart knowledge into the young ones. We have gained the support of parents and guardians who have chosen to enroll their kids into our school and I must say that their support is massive in terms of ensuring a prompt payment of their kids’ school fees and other dues alike. It is just normal that we bear with such parents at their on critical time and usually the start of a new school year is with lots of challenges.