Parents and guardians of students schooling at various model schools are angry with Lagos State.
They have drawn the battle-line in anger over the state government’s increase in the feeding fees of students at the boarding schools.
The parents are seething, and many of them are considering protests to condemn the increased fees and to call the attention of the government to their plights.
The provocation all started in June 2021, when the Lagos State government, during a meeting with parents and other education stakeholders, announced plans to hike the feeding fee, from N25,000 being paid by state-owned boarding schools, to N75,000.
The government cited their inability to feed the students with the initial sum of N25,000 paid by their parents.
According to the Commissioner of Education, Mrs Folashade Adefisayo Lagos government after their calculation, the government found out that it would take N125,000 to feed a child per term.
Hence, “In view of this, the government had at its State Executive Council meeting resolved that parents would begin to pay N75,000 per child per term beginning from next session,” she declared.
According to Franktalknow the government’s decision was a rude shock to Parents Forum leaders across the state.
Although most of the angry parents agreed that the increment of the boarding school feeding fee was inevitable, as the cost of food had skyrocketed, they all affirmed that coughing out N75, 000 in the present harsh economic situation would be excruciating on their finances.
Some sources also claimed that the Lagos government struck a deal with a faction of the Parents Forum, and reduced the amount to N50, 000.
But most of the parents that spoke with franktalknow still rejected the said reduction to N50, 000. They also denounced the faction that claimed to have reached an agreement with the government.
In a statement, one of the parents, Dapo Dawodu, who is chairman of the Coalition of PF Chairmen and Excos said the faction did not represent their interest in whatever negotiations they went into with the state government.
Dawodu said they suspect foul play behind the rumours that parents have agreed to pay N50, 000 per child at model colleges.
He said, “This development, and much more happening around us, are stage-managed affairs designed to create a make-belief victory.
“The N50k fee instructed by the government was not published on the official letterheading on which such a crucial decision on a policy change would have been made!
“To underscore its dubiousness, one can see that it was neither addressed to all Boarding School principals nor did they all receive the same, at the same time. It’s all a trick in the ongoing struggle, to get you used to their figures,” Dawodu added.
Also, Mr Odukanmi, a parent with three children in a model school appealed to the Lagos State government to show compassion and reduce the increment.
He lamented that many homes in Lagos are struggling to cope and cannot even afford to pay N35, 000 or N40,000 not to talk of N50,000 being bandied about.
Odukanmi however noted that most parents are not against the increment, but they are willing to pay N30,000 instead of the N50,000 purportedly proposed by the government.“I am a labourer in Gberigbe at Ikorodu. I have three children in the state school. So the government wants me to pay N150, 000 for them each term. Where will I get that sort of money? It is so insensitive and unfair.
“Lagos government should help us, we are not against the increment but they should not increase it beyond N30,000. Our parents can cope with N5,000 added to the N25,000.
“Government said the N25,000 we are paying is not enough, but we don’t believe that. The increment would not be necessary; if the N25,000 we pay is judiciously managed.
“And that is why we want our PF executives to be part of the school management board to ensure proper utilization of the funds.”
Another group of parents kicking against the increment are the Education Rights Campaign.
The group charged parents to protest until the government reduce the increment foisted on them.
ERC’s coordinator, Comrade Nurudeen Alowonle in their statement said the increase at Lagos state model colleges is “an attempt to price education out of the reach of children from working-class and poor backgrounds.
“We are aware of the disunity within the leadership of the Parents’ Forum, especially the existence of a breakaway faction led by Otunba Barete from LSMC, Kaikon Badagry.
“This factional PF leadership held a meeting recently with the Lagos State Commissioner of Education where the sum of N50, 000 was agreed as the boarding feeding fee.
“We in the ERC reject this proposal and urge all parents and students of LSMC to reject it.
“This is because to start with, those who went to have this meeting with the commissioner did not first obtain the authorization and mandate of the generality of parents before attending the meeting nor did they seek the opinion of the generality of parents before agreeing to any amount of money,” he added.
Alowonle decried how the PF faction was quick to agree to a N50, 000 boarding feeding fee without putting much pressure on the government to further bring down the increment.
He said, “In the struggle for human and socio-economic rights, writing of letters, meetings and lobbying are simply the first steps. Other options include press conferences, interviews on notable radio, television and newspapers as well as peaceful protests and demonstrations.
“The N50, 000 boarding fee that the Otunba Barete faction has agreed to is outrageous and beyond the means of a majority of parents. Many poor families are finding it hard to eat three square meals per day.
“Even with the N25, 000 feeding fee, many parents still have to obtain loans from LAPO to pay.
“Some parents have more than one child in these LSMCs. Hence with this increment, many parents will have no choice but to withdraw their children from the LSMC if the proposal of N50, 000 feeding fee is implemented.
“We would therefore like to urge the Otunba Barete faction, if they truly mean well, to reverse themselves and publicly withdraw from any N50, 000 agreement with the government.
“This is a struggle that can be won if we are united.”
The ERC gingered parents not to shy away from staging a protest to register their displeasure over the increment.
“A peaceful protest led by such an organized movement cannot be easily hijacked so far the leadership of the PF in each school is carried along in the planning and execution,” he said.
“For us in the ERC, we do not see how this struggle can be won without protests and demonstrations.
“The only essential thing is that any protest we want to have must be peaceful and well-coordinated.
“Also, it would be an illusion to think that just one protest action will convince the government. We need to have a robust strategy of organizing a series of protests and demonstrations as well as press conferences, online campaigns, appearances on television and radio interviews as well as print media.
“The ERC remains convinced that victory is possible if we are prepared to struggle for it.
“The truth is that the Lagos state government has more than enough resources to fund free and functional public education.
“The only reason why they are not funding public education adequately including the model colleges is not that there are no adequate resources to do this but corruption and capitalism.”
The Head of Public Affairs Unit, Lagos Education ministry, Ganiu Olanrewaju Lawal, said the government is aware of the complaint but is yet to make any official statement on the matter.
“I’ll give you a call when we are about to react to it,” Lawal said.