Parents Reject Lagos Model Colleges Fee Hike

Mrs Folashade Adefisayo, Honourable Commissioner for Education, Lagos State

The Lagos State Ministry of Education is on collision course with parents whose children are in the boarding houses of the 17 Lagos State model colleges and upgraded secondary schools over a proposed boarding fee hike.

During a meeting with the Education Commissioner, Mrs. Folasade Adefisayo, Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Abosede Adelaja, and principals of all the colleges, at the Lagos State Universal Basic Education Board, Maryland on July 7, parents were told of plans to increase the boarding fees payable by the junior and senior secondary pupils to N75,000 from N25,000.

In light of the inflation of foodstuff, the Permanent Secretary said the government had calculated that it would take N125,000 to feed each child for a term but the government would subsidize to N75,000.

Parents were told that if they could not pay the new fee, the ministry would transfer their wards to nearby public secondary schools without boarding facilities.

The parents asked for a reduction to N40,000 during the meeting and later, some groups proposed N50,000.  However, the coalition of the parents’ forums of the 17 model colleges announced yesterday that they would pay N30,000 as boarding fees.

They petitioned the Lagos State House of Assembly on the matter yesterday.  The petition followed two letters they had written to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and the Commissioner.

Chairman of the coalition of chairmen and secretaries of the Parents’ Forum for the 17 model colleges, Surveyor Dapo Dawodu, told The Nation that the parents, from their own research, had calculated that N18,000 was enough to cover the feeding of each child and payment of the cooks per term.  He said the parents were only willing to pay N5,000 extra on the N25,000 to cover for emergencies.

He said: “Hitherto up till now, we paid N25,000 per term or three months. Now, we were given a proposal on the 7th of July of an increment of N75,000, a two hundred per cent increment. And of course, we rejected this; we the body of Chairmen of the Parents forum of this Lagos State Modern Colleges and our rejection is not based on the plea. It is our money. The Lagos State government has a policy of free education in place and it is working. It is not disrupted. And that is why in paying this amount, of N25,000 per child, it is entrusted in the care of the principal of each of these model colleges to expend foodstuffs and ancillary services or welfare.

“Government has provided the infrastructure. And by their saying they want a 200 per cent increment, we are not fools. We have done our own investigation. We have calculated that a child does not need more than N18,000 per term or three months to feed. So the N25,000 is adequate but if you are talking of ancillary services, N7,000 will take care of it to make N25,000.  The additional five of the N30,000 that we are proposing is just to take care of contingencies, whatever it may be.

“You can imagine in a school of one 1,000 boarding house students. Most of the Lagos State Model Colleges both at the Junior and Senior, especially junior has about  1,000 students in these boarding houses,” he said.

Many of the PF (Parents Forum) executives lamented that presently, the pupils were not being well fed – which they attributed to misappropriation of funds by the principals who manage the funds.

They doubted that an increment would make a difference in the quality of food being fed to the children.

Dawodu said the children return from school looking malnourished – like refugees.  He said the parents’ stance was not an appeal but an affirmation of how the money they pay should be spent.

“There are no parents that are happy with the way the child appears on the day they are coming back home on vacation. They are more or less like, sorry to say, Ethiopian refugees; they look malnourished.

Many of the parents described the food their wards were fed as horrendous.  They said their children had been eating food without protein.

“They prepared watery Egusi soup for the children.  When we asked about the meat or fish, they said it was on the way.  They prepare three packs of spaghetti for 15 students without any protein; and a 10kg bag of semovita for 50 students,” said one parent whose child attends the Lagos State Model College at Badore.

Another parent said: “On Sundays, the children are given bread with hot water and told to take out of their provisions to make tea.”

However, some of the parents said not all the schools had poor quality food.  Secretary of the parents’ forum at Oriwu Junior Model College, Ikorodu, Mr. Abayomi Ajayi, said the food at the school was of good quality though of small quantity because the principal of the school paid attention to it.

The parents also lamented the degeneration of facilities at the colleges – adding that they are forced to intervene – repairing or providing facilities the government had neglected to provide.

Ajayi said the proposed increment would deal a blow to less privileged parents who cannot even afford the N25,000 fee they had been paying.

“If they increase the money, some parents in Oriwu who are widows cannot afford it.  Apart from my two biological children in the school, I pay fees for two other children.  With the increment, I won’t be able to continue.  One of the mothers came to me that should she not withdraw her ward, but I told her we would fight the increment together,” he said.

To ensure judicious use of funds, the parents, through the coalition, petitioned that the government include parents on the School-Based Management Committees (SBMC) of the schools so they can monitor what the administrators do with the funds they get.

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