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Coping with school expenses, finances after yuletide, by experts

By Adelowo Adebumiti, Yetunde Ayobami Ojo (Lagos) and Rotimi Agboluaje ( Ibadan)
13 January 2022   |   3:12 am
School resumption after Yuletide festivities is usually a ‘troublesome’ period for parents, guardians, and school owners alike. This is because after the Christmas period

School resume for 2nd term of 2021/2022 Academic Session at Masaka Nasarawa State. PHOTO LUCY LADIDI ATEKO

School resumption after Yuletide festivities is usually a ‘troublesome’ period for parents, guardians, and school owners alike. This is because the Christmas period comes financial challenges.

Investigations have shown that many parents spent so much on Yuletide shopping, which may affect meeting the back-to-school needs of their wards amid the financial and economic challenges in the country.

A parent, Toun Adeojo, said bearing in mind that schools would resume immediately after the festivities, and the mere fact that January always seems to be longer than other months, she celebrated the yuletide under a strict budget.

“Knowing that school resumption after Christmas has one major challenge, which is money, I tried to celebrate Christmas ‘low-keyed’, especially as there are school fees to be paid,” Adeojo said.
A public analyst, Mike Uduak, said parents should learn to be prudent, even during festivities, bearing in mind that there are bills to pay in January.

“If parents cannot afford to kill a cow, they should use chicken; if they cannot afford chicken, let them use fish so that they would be able to meet their financial obligations to their wards,” he said.

Another parent, Gabriel Oyeniran, said paying school fees this January is tough due to overspending during Yuletide.

For many parents, paying school fees after festivities is an uphill task, especially for anybody that has more than a child.

Advising parents on how to plan for this eventuality, Director of Starfield School, Lagos, Christopher Eigbe, who noted that funding children’s education is always challenging, said to meet that obligation, they need to plan by saving ahead.
According to him, parents can equally prioritise fees by paying ahead towards the end of the previous term or taking fee payment insurance. Other means he suggested include opening a back-to-school account with banks or approaching the school’s accountant and making a commitment as to how they plan to offset the bill.

An education consultant, Mahfuz Alabidun, observed that festive periods come with so many activities, like family reunions, get-togethers and others, which compound the expenses of parents and guardians.                

“This affects the financial commitment of parents to their wards, in the area of school fees and other expenses, particularly, salary earners.”
He advised parents to create trust fund accounts for their children dedicated to funding their academics.
He said: “Parents should learn more about financial literacy to aid their spending irrespective of those ceremonies. They should create a special account for their children’s school fees. If possible, parents should create an account with their children’s school so that they can pay school fees ahead.”
Similarly, Victor Kayode, a parent, said it’s all about planning. 

Kayode noted that payment of school fees and other educational expenses should always be a priority.            

“Most parents focus on Christmas and new year clothes, entertainment and another unnecessary spending without saving and planning for school expenses after resumption in January.” 
Kayode advised parents to take their children’s education more seriously by developing a culture of savings, which can be by setting aside a specific amount each month for a year to support their children’s school expenses.
Besides, he urged them to look for good and affordable schools for their wards rather than showing off by enrolling them inexpensive ones they could not afford, thereby, putting themselves under unnecessary pressure.

“For easy settling of children in classes, parents can prioritise expenses based on their financial strength.  
As for payment of school fees, parents can negotiate instalment payment to meet other needs,” he said. 
Proprietor of De Vessels Nursery and Primary School, Ijeododo, Mrs. Nkechi Amaji, however, noted that though some parents pay upfront during this period, those who are not able to do so can get credit facilities from financial institutions. She said they could equally pay in instalments.
A journalist, Jamiu Abubakar, advised parents to meet the school management and agree on a working modality of making payment for their wards. He said this would go a long way in resolving issues and prevent children from being sent home.
Another journalist, Damilare Salami, said parents should have reserves for their children’s expenses come what may. 
“But if there is none, education of their children should remain a priority. Considering the harsh economic reality and importance of children education, parents could liaise with their schools for a soft-landing.
“Another option is loan facility from banks or other corporate organisations. The loan would help in sorting things out before parents stabilise financially as they settle into the New Year,” salami said.
A parent, Mrs. Kehinde Omole Salawu, said it is an unwritten law in her home that they don’t start Christmas expenses until school fees for the second term are sorted. “So, for us, January resumption is never an issue.”
On her part, Mrs. Tope Lawanson, enjoined parents to minimise expenses while private school owners should work with stakeholders.
Lawanson said the best way to deal with economic challenges, especially as schools resume is to plan ahead and minimise expenses during the festivities.
She said: “Resumption is not something you don’t know about, so to avoid embarrassment, avoid unnecessary expenses and stay within your limits.”
Mr. Femi Ojo, in his remarks, encouraged parents to budget within their means. He said, “Parents should spend within their means and manage what they have. This may not be the right period to buy new bags, shoes, socks and others if the old ones are still manageable.
Mrs. Amaka Onyekwere was of the view that parents should budget and plan for resumption.
“I believe that parents are aware that their wards will resume school after the festivities, hence, they should plan for their resumption by factoring in the financial implications and budget as they are planning for end of the year activities.
“So, my take is that parents ought to budget for their children’s resumption ahead of time. This means, as they are spending for the end of the year, they should remember to set something aside for school resumption,” she said.

Mr. Emmanuel Ukudolo of Starconnect Media said parents could contact financial institutions for education packages. 
Head of Department of Guidance and Counselling, University of Ibadan (UI), Prof. Oyesoji Aremu, urged parents to re-prioritise family needs and budget. 
Aremu noted that the beginning of every school term is always challenging for parents, especially coming after major festivities like Christmas and New Year. 
“The reason is that parents are always financially hard-up due to expenses during this period. Settling children in school, therefore, comes with financial difficulties.
“This, again, becomes more difficult at this period of national life when inflation spikes are on the increase. For parents, they have to be more circumspect by re-appraising their budgets for the year and reprioritising family needs and projects.
“Similarly, parents need to address urgent and important needs of their children, especially tuition. Parents are also advised to look inwards by reaching out to their children’s schools for some financial understanding,” Aremu said.
A teacher with a private school in Ibadan, Mr. Ezekiel Adeyemo, said a good parent should always plan ahead regardless of the demands of the festive period. 
“They ought to have set aside school fees for second term. Those who are not financially buoyant should meet the school management for discussions and modalities on how to pay in instalments.