The school year was over and the bills for the new term were being handed over to we, the parents.

Judging by the previous bills I had received in the past year, I thought I knew what figures to expect when I opened the envelope. But boy, was I wrong! Just like the price of rice had gone up in the market, the cost of my child’s education had apparently increased as well.

I wanted to complain but I held back. Actually I didn’t dare grumble because compared to the well rounded figures which many of my contemporaries were paying, our own school fees could be described as very affordable inspite of the increment. In fact some may even consider it cheap. But based on my family’s income I would rather stick to the term ‘affordable’.

So now, that brings me to my question of the day – What would you label as affordable and expensive when it comes to school fees? How high are you willing to go in order to guarantee your child a standard education?

Now there are two categories of parents I would like to address; Those who believe that any education short of pricey can’t be good education and Those that believe that any pricey education is simply a ‘rip off’ on the part of the school and/or a ‘show off’ on the part of the parent

Let me explain the way these things work – When the fees for a term comes at say N750,000 per term, that cost covers not just the subject lessons in themselves. It also covers things like the sophisticated facility within which learning happens, the expatriate teachers, the up-to-date learning materials etc. Now note that the fact that your child receives his lessons within a state of the art classroom and has easy access to the best learning tools does not guarantee he will be receiving a well rounded education. That would largely depend on the system run by the school and the people within the system. For example is the maths teacher an accounting graduate who was unable to get a job after leaving school? Or in addition to his BSc in accounting, is he also a properly trained educationist who understands the complex dynamics of handling and communicating with children. Are the children being taught how to be confident without being rude? Is the curriculum structured to enable the child excel both locally and internationally?

On the other end of the scale, the fact that a school is affordable does not mean that good education cannot be obtained there. Again what we should be looking at is the system run by school and the people within the system. For instance, even though the children cannot afford field trips abroad, are they being well grounded in the principles behind for example money, so that whatever the currency they will be able to trade appropriately. Has the school made their classrooms conducive for learning and their fields safe for play? Are the teachers being paid a fair salary which will motivate the quality of their ‘input’?

So you see, at the end of the day the idea is not about you going all out, looking for the cheapest or most expensive schools. Instead ask yourself these questions – What do you want the outcome of your child’s educational years to be? Which schools share your vision and is also structured and committed to fulfilling it within your own budget frame? Remember that the foundation of your child’s education is very key and prevention is way better than cure. Therefore, it is better to make whatever sacrifices are needed in ensuring your child starts off on the right foot rather than later trying to correct deeply rooted errors. Note that sacrifices do not only come in monetary terms. It for example, may include you making out much more time to practice with your child at home because you honestly cannot afford that extra ‘cost’ which will get him into a better school or perhaps taking the pain to go through every bit of your child’s notes in order to screen the information being passed across or maybe paying for a home lesson teacher which will cost way less than a more expensive school or maybe enrolling your child in that slightly less expensive school outside your ‘circle’ so that he is balanced both locally and internationally. 

Bottom line, don’t join the rat race. Make the sacrifice to give your child what you know is best for him/her

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