Concerns over the Lagos State Government’s secondary schools’ collection of hidden fees have risen in recent years. These fees can be a significant financial burden on less fortunate families with already tight budgets, as they are frequently not revealed to parents during the admissions process.
An example is the Randle Junior Secondary School, Pelewura Crescent, Apapa, which once charged N2,200 fee for tutorial classes, according to a report by Premium Times. It was later confirmed that the tutorial classes were never held.
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It was also revealed that the school tasked level 3 of the Junior Secondary School to pay N3,500 for BECE, a state exam, and for the results.
Secondary schools run by the Lagos State Government are mandated to offer all students a free education, regardless of background or financial situation. This right to free education is further reflected in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for achieving the Agenda 2030. In SDG Target 4.1, there is a call to “ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education.” Unfortunately, many students are required to pay fees that are not explicitly stated.
Although they can differ from school to school, the hidden costs typically cover the cost of textbooks, uniforms, and exam fees. Yearly, some colleges charge as much as N50,000 or more per student in these fees, which can be substantial. This can be a prohibitive financial burden for families who are already struggling to make ends meet, making it difficult or even impossible for their kids to go to school.
Hidden fees have a big effect on students who come from less privileged backgrounds. Adding these fees to the already expensive cost of education for many families may make it impossible for them to afford to send their children to school. This, in turn, feeds the cycle of poverty and prevents kids from having access to an education that could transform their lives.
Some parents accused the schools of forcing the students to buy textbooks from particular vendors, frequently at exorbitant costs. These vendors, they claimed, may have ties to the management of the school or a contract with the institution requiring them to sell only their textbooks, which restricts options and raises costs. Families may face a major financial hardship as a result, since textbooks can cost thousands of Naira annually.
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According to a survey by the Lagos State Ministry of Education, parents of low-income families can spend up to 30% of their monthly income on school-related costs like uniforms and textbooks. Families who are already having trouble making expenses meet may be under a lot of stress as a result of this.
The effect is that schools are inadvertently depriving some children of their right to an education and making it more challenging for them to escape the cycle of poverty by levying these costs.
Students from less privileged families are particularly affected by hidden fees as children from low-income families are more likely to drop out of school due to financial difficulties, according to a UNICEF study. It is harder for these kids to escape their predicament as a result, which feeds the cycle of destitution.
The absence of transparency surrounding the collection and use of these fees show little accountability for how the funds are used, and parents frequently are unaware of the precise fees that are being levied. This makes the educational system’s integrity uncertain and exposes the door to corruption.
Creating an openly accessible database listing all fees levied by secondary schools in Lagos State is one potential solution. This would give parents the knowledge they need to decide where to enroll their children in school wisely and make it simpler to spot and deal with any schools that have hidden costs.
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And more money from the Lagos State Government is needed to pay for the price of necessities like textbooks and uniforms in public schools. Families would have less financial stress as a result, and it would also guarantee that all students have access to the tools they need to thrive in school.
The collection of hidden fees in government-run secondary schools in Lagos State is a major impediment to education for students from less privileged backgrounds. It perpetuates the cycle of poverty and violates the Nigerian Constitution’s guarantee of free and compulsory education. The Lagos State Government must move swiftly to put an end to this practice. Only by doing this will we be able to guarantee that every kid in the State has access to the education they require to better themselves and their families.
The reporting for this story is supported by YouthHub Africa in collaboration with Malala Fund.