It was years ago, a friend mentioned to me that her child wasn’t doing well at School, and I
asked her if she had been to school and she said she hadn’t, as she had been very busy with
work. Then I said to her: na your retirement you dey take play! She stared at me for a while and
snorted: “this your mouth!”; I told her if she engaged the Teacher and other parents she would
know if it was her child who had a problem, the teacher, or possibly the school. I am not sure
if she agreed with me, but I’d made my point and hoped she got the message. Sure, she did,
she would later make time to visit the school and shortly after that visit, she moved her child to
another School, and to her surprise, it was full steam from then on; today, that child is an
undergraduate at a top University. That saying: “a stitch in time, …”, is apt!
It is that time of the year again, back to School season (hoping the ASUU strike gets called off
soon), some have resumed since August and some still preparing to go back; my younger
daughter resumed today, and she is quite excited to be in a new Class. All the best, me Dear!
Now, it’s that time of the year when we worry about School fees and its huge impact, while
some can afford it, the fact is that for most of us, this period is a time of immense pressure.
School fees have gone up like almost every other ‘commodity’, then the additional costs of
starting a new school year – development levies, new uniforms, new shoes (some children
would have outgrown their old ones), books, cost of travel to school locations, the list is almost
endless. Well done to all Parents and Guardians, indeed it is my prayer that our children excel
and that, we all reap the rewards of our investments. I am sure you will agree with me, that
educating children is an investment, and this is one major reason why we must put our eyes
down and watch its progress, just like we do our other investments.
Beyond the payment of School fees and other expenses, there is still so much to be done. You
know for some of us, soon as we have doled out the money, we tend to believe our job is
done. Can you blame anyone who thinks this way? Nope! I totally understand, after paying
such big sums, somebody else better take up the rest; but the reality is that we must stay
involved, through all possible means. Good enough there are various channels of
communication, as well as sources of information.
Do you know your Children’s teachers? How many have the school calendar for their
Children’s Schools, or the scheme of work? Do you have the class timetable? Do you know the
curriculum being taught in your Child’s School? How often do you visit the School? Bear in mind
that this is not restricted to Nursery or Primary Schools. It does not hurt to have your Child’s
Some complain that the school never informed them, but most times you find that parents
have failed to read newsletters sent through their children, or directly via Email or WhatsApp.
It is not uncommon to find Children who turn up in School, in the wrong attire, despite over
three weeks’ notice of a particular upcoming activity. Some Parents call Parent Reps, to book
flights for their children, weeks after the advised deadline. Some of us are too busy to attend
Remember that most of the private schools (particularly pre through post Primary), are business
ventures, and most of what they do must be beneficial to the school. So, if your Child keeps
getting promoted to the next class, despite not meeting up, it is because a certain number
must be in a class to cover the expenses. It is only in very extreme cases that you may be called
upon to address gaps your Child may have, and this is one major reason why you must be on
top of things.
The experience in the public schools is even more demanding – with the huge numbers of
students, against very limited number of teachers, parents should have no choice but to be
even more involved.
When we get involved, it becomes easier to support our Children and understand what is
going on, and how they are getting along. We have seen Parents spend huge sums of money
to send their Children to very expensive schools, only to find out that the Children neither
settled in, nor progressed with their studies. Some find out in common entrance year (typically
year 6), that their Children have never grasped any mathematics concept, and so is not ready
to take the examinations. Yes, some go into Science Classes and just as GCSE or WAEC is
approaching, we realize they are not cut out for the Sciences. Some parents only discover,
upon arrival for their Child’s graduation, that the child has either changed course, or is not
graduating just yet.
Are we involved in deciding school choices? Do we carry out research on the courses, then
the schools and even the towns where these schools are located? Do we check the long-term
plans for the children? Or are we just following the bandwagon? When you ask some parents
why they have chosen a particular school, they tell you my nephews go there or my neighbor’s
children, so commute is convenient.
As parents, we have been given children as gifts, and we must treasure them; we must also
ensure that as best as we can, we do not tire of our responsibilities. When we remember that
the table will turn in old age (not so far, for some of us), we realize that we cannot afford not
to be committed.
To be honest, there are some duties you just cannot afford to delegate, and this is one of them.
The education of our children is critical, it is expensive, and has benefits down the line; so, we
must be fully hands on, it is a job that we all must take seriously.
Welcome to the new school year and good luck with managing your investments.