Birnin Kebbi, Makurdi, Jos, Kaduna, Awka, and Abuja — The new school year, which would start in a couple of days in most states, was said to have come with mixed feelings for education authorities, parents and even children.
UNESCO had issued a statement calling on stakeholders not to lose sight of children left out of school.
In Kebbi State parents were apprehensive over the increase in school fees, high cost of books and other materials for children in the new academic term.
A parent, Bello Kardi whose three children would go back to school said, "I' m expected to pay huge school fees, buy books, uniforms, school bags and other items for my three children. The new school years offers a big challenge for me," he said.
Mr Abayomi Olatunji who had two children at Basaura Comprehensive High School and Joda International School in Birnin Kebbi said he was expected to pay exorbitant fees for his kids this term.
"I am presently running around to look for money; I am expected to pay over N130,000 as fees and I still have to buy books and other things," he said.
Malam Abdullahi Adamu Augie said he contemplated removing his JSS2 child from a private school to a public school.
"I don't think I will be able to source for the school fees I am expected to pay for my child when the school resumes. They increased the fees and the books he needs would cost over N53, 000. I can't afford it," he said.
A head teacher, Sandra Timothy, in one of the private schools in Birnin Kebbi said schools authorities were not unaware of the burden on parents "but the school also had its own challenges which must be met for the students to be properly taught and for it to maintain its standards," she said.
In Benue State, parents were optimistic that the new school year would witness tremendous academic improvement on the part of school owners and government despite the challenges of huge fees charged in the private institutions.
A parent, Mike Idoko, who had three children in private schools said he would be paying a total of N180, 000 as fees.
"I have bought books already. There are still other basic demands I must meet up as the children return to school. It's no easy for me considering what I earn as salary. I expect teaching and learning to be enhanced this year," he said.
Another parent, Jessica Terna, whose daughter would be moving to SSS3 in a unity school, said she needed a total of N110, 000 to cover registration process for SSCE among others things adding that how to raise the money had become a challenge she needed to surmount.
The Proprietress, Bethel International schools, in Gboko, Mrs. Salaudeen Tabitha Msurshima who was the chairman of proprietors of private schools in Benue State, expected government in the new academic year to do its duty by carrying out effective supervision, monitoring and evaluation of educational facilities to ensure standard.
Meanwhile on the new concepts and methodologies implemented by schools to improve teaching and learning in classroom, the Benue State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) disclosed that its inspectorate departments and quality assurance units already places high standards for the new academic year.
SUBEB's Chairman, Mathew Mnyam, enumerated the new standards to include effective monitoring of schools for at least three times in a term to take physical statistics of teachers while also introducing press clubs whose members (pupils) would report drunken teachers or other happenings in their schools to authorities concerned daily for due action to be taken among other initiatives.
In Plateau State, a mother whose children attend Nissi Academy in Bukuru, Elizabeth Achor, said most teachers who taught in the previous terms were usually moved new classes, thereby making it difficult for children to cope with the new teachers.
She said most schools also increase fees every term without proper notice.
Another parent, whose children attend Precious Academy in Dadinkowa, Jos, Douglas Francis said textbooks were very expensive.
He said many schools have made it mandatory for parents to buy books from them in what appeared to be higher than the normal price.
On his part, the Managing Director, Plateau Private School, Lucky Momoh, said most schools had the challenge of getting qualified teachers.
He said a week to resumption;a one-week workshop was organized for teachers to equip them with contemporary knowledge on school administration and knowledge impartation.
Reacting, the Public Relations Officer of Plateau State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Richard Jonah, said the board was doing everything to ensure that all the challenges associated with new term were eliminated.
Meanwhile Kaduna State Ministry of Education has set up committees to tackle delays of academic exercise and ensure smooth takeoff of classes across.
Public Relations Officer, Ibrahim Abubakar said that the ministry had evolved various concepts to enhance high standards in the new academic year in public schools, saying, the tradition of spending one or two weeks after resumption without holding classes would not be tolerated
Abubakar said the first committee involving teachers, traditional rulers, PTAs, School Management Committees (SMCs) and officials from the ministry would work together with headmasters, principals to ensure that all necessary arrangement of classes, environmental sanitation and lesson plan were made.
While the second committee which had ward and village heads, SMC, PTA and officials from the ministry would go round and monitor the adherence of the initiatives taken to improve teaching and learning in classroom
He also revealed that the ministry had recently trained 300 secondary school teachers on effective teaching of mathematics, English, biology, chemistry and physics.
However, a father of five, Mallam Rabiu Ibrahim said "I have been able to buy textbooks and new exercise books for children in private school but now battling to raise their school fees. I will go and plead with the management of the school to allow them until end of the month to balance the remaining."
The chairman, Anambra State Universal Basic Education (ASUBEB), Chief Patrick Ugbaja, said the challenge of shortage of teaching staff was being addressed, as the state government had been recruiting graduates.
According to him, as part of efforts to strengthen the education system in the state, government had in the last few years employed over 3,000 teachers to strengthen the teaching staff in public schools.
A parent in Awka, Mr. Okechukwu John who spoke to Daily Trust said, most public schools haven't got enough teachers.
Ismail Adebayo, Hope Abah Emmanuel, Dickson S. Adama, Hassan Ibrahim, Titus Eleweke & Misbahu Bashir