Kaduna — Parents in Kaduna state have decried exorbitant fees charged by private schools in the state.
The parents complain that private schools are exploiting them in the name of offering sound education to their children.
Some of the aggrieved parents who spoke to Daily Trust said the 'Abuja syndrome' is gradually creeping into Kaduna and affecting school fees and house rent among others.
A parent whose children attends one of the private schools in Kaduna, Mrs. Sandra Majek, lamented that in a term, she pays about N200,000 for her three children who are all in primary schools. For each child she pays over N60,000 per term, totaling over half a million naira annually.
"This is not healthy for a family that is just coming up because you will end up spending all your earnings on child education and that means you cannot do any other thing for the family. In fact sometimes, private schools go as far as charging examination fee for infants in the crèche, what exams are infants writing?" she asked.
Another parent, Mr. Lawrence Anthony, said that his children's school fees are too high in spite of the fact that they attend a school owned by a church. "You hardly find children of the ordinary members of church in schools owned by churches because of the exorbitant fees charged. So what is the essence of building a school in the name of the church and church members cannot benefit. Even universities owned by churches can only be attended by rich people. For my two kids in nursery and primary school I pay close to N150,000 per term," he said.
The parents, therefore call on the state government to check the excesses of the private schools and also put the public schools in order, stressed that if government schools are put in standard shape with qualified teachers and adequate learning facilities, nobody will patronise private schools. "So it is government that is giving the private school owners patronage due to its laxity in the area of education," Anthony said.
In his reaction, the state president of the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools, Dr. Vincent Ogili, said that private schools should not be blamed for charging high fees as they spend huge sums of money to maintain the schools, adding that Kaduna state has the cheapest private schools in the country.
According to him, private schools charge high because they provide all the amenities, buildings, infrastructures and at the same time pay staff salaries all from the students fees. "For every one term students pay, the schools pay staff salaries for four months and the provision of infrastructure in private schools cannot be compared with that of public schools and all these things cost money."
He also stated that land is very expensive in the state and that schools sometimes collect loans from banks to purchase land for their buildings and then pay back with interest. He further said that private schools in the state are being charged multiple taxation.
"Private schools pay about 11 different taxes annually, including tax to state government, local government, commerce and industry, internal board of revenue, lands and survey and PAYEE among others. In fact now, Kaduna State Environmental Protection Authority (KEPA) is also demanding tax from private schools. All these charges in one way or the other affect the fees charged by the schools," he said.