While most, if not all schools across the country have reopened, many said there has been a drastic drop in fee collection. According to a survey carried out by TPN Credit Bureau, fee collection hit a record high in August last year when only 45.9% of parents paid. It has since risen to around 60% in January 2021 (up from 67% in January 2020) according to Michelle Dickens, MD of TPN.
An uncertain future
Tuition fees are the main source of income for over 90% of private schools and 60% of public schools and not only threaten the school’s ability to function, but also jeopardize long-term sustainability, with the possibility of numerous school closures in the near future.
“The challenge facing many schools – even before the Covid crisis – is that paying tuition fees is not a priority among a growing number of parents who prioritize mortgages, rent, car financing, store cards and even payday loans versus tuition. Says Dickens, adding that this trend has been exacerbated by the pandemic.
Request for fee exemption
In the aftermath of the global pandemic, parents paying public schools have the option of requesting fee waivers to alleviate some of the pressures on households during this difficult time. However, this doesn’t seem like an option for many. The survey found that 21.6% of children who decide not to go to school say it is because of the inability to pay school fees – the reality is that the cost of education is more than just the expense.
Transport, textbooks and uniforms are also a big problem and it remains to be seen how the government will cope with the increasing pressure on its budget allocation for basic education.
But as the pressure is eased on one side, schools are bearing the brunt of this burden as they attempt to balance the fees collected with the fees they must waive for parents with little or no current income.