Increase in tuition fees unavoidable as private schools spend fortune on security

Concerns have been voiced by private schools in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) that higher tuition will result from the expensive cost of protecting their buildings against roving kidnappers.

An administrator of a private secondary school in an Abuja satellite town, who wished to remain anonymous and not have her or her school’s name revealed, said that paying the salary of security guards who work around the clock requires at least N5 million.

This, she said, excludes the cost of security equipment and powering them overnight.

While admitting the harsh economic reality confronting Nigerians, she said the increase in school fees remains imminent as schools are almost running at a loss.

Another private school owner in the Lugbe area of the city, who runs day school, put the cost of hiring local vigilantes at over N3 million yearly. This comprises a monthly salary of N75,000 each for four vigilantes.

He said: “Two of them must be on the ground at a time. This is because it is an average school, a bigger school would require about eight of them. This does not include the cost of Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV), lighting of the environment and purchase of tools for the security operatives.

“Remember also that the cost is minimal because we are using local vigilante. If we decide to engage the police, obtaining an application alone costs over N1 million.”

A source at a private university also revealed that the institution spent a fortune providing security. He informed that the Army had previously been contacted by the school, and that they had provided an armoured personnel carrier (APC) and sufficient security gadgets for the police.

He also mentioned the presence of armed security guards who patrol the school around-the-clock, in addition to the efforts of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), the army, and the police.

He bemoaned the fact that, if immediate action is not taken to stop the trend, parents will ultimately bear the brunt of the government’s indifference to its constitutional responsibilities.

Nyesom Wike, the minister of the Federal Capital Territory, has suddenly raised the operating costs for Abuja’s private school owners.

Under the approved new tax regime, each school will be billed according to tuition paid by students and the number of enrolments.

A memo entitled, ‘Review of private school operation charges in FCT’ issued by the Head of Account, Department of Quality Assurance of the Education Secretariat, Mudi Muhammed, said the directive would be effective January.

Reacting, the National Association of Proprietors of Private School Owners in the FCT rejected the increase through a letter addressed to the Education Secretariat.

It noted that such a tax review at a time when the Federal Government had promised to eliminate multiple taxes would only increase the cost of education beyond the reach of many parents, thus adding to the population of out-of-school children.

Chairperson of the association, Ruqayah Agboola, stated that the new development would add more pressure on private schools, as it will increase their running cost.