School Shuts Down, Some Record Low Turnout Over Hardship In Many Families

For two decades, Telesis School, situated in Alakuko area of Lagos, thrived as an academic centre, striving to provide sound education for many families resident in the community and its environs.

But, as schools resumed across the country recently for a new academic session, the gates of the institution has remained shut to the teaching staff and pupils.

A former official in the Finance Department of the school confessed that the closure was due to the present hardship and economic recession in the country. He said:
“The school was established in 1996 and it has survived many challenges. Before the economic situation in the country got this bad, it had a good standard and we could not afford go below it. Then parents began to owe the management a lot of money and they started withdrawing their children from the school in large numbers
“When we asked why they were taking the kids to other schools that fell below the standard of our school, some of them told us that they had lost their jobs, while others had changed jobs. We used to have between 300 and 400 pupils. The population suddenly came down to about 50, the proprietress then told us she had to close down the school rather than owe the staff salaries.”
Investigation by The Punch shows that the Telesis School is only one of several schools in Alakuko affected by the economic situation. During a visit to the premises last week, the main building, which housed classrooms, was empty. There was no indication that academic activities took place in the building a few months ago.

A former member of the teaching staff of the school also said a series of events led to the closure.

A lot of factors have contributed to the closure of the school. Apart from the fact that parents were owing money, we were being owed salaries before the school eventually packed up,” she said.

The Vice-President, National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools, Chief Yomi Otubela, said the recession had indeed affected many schools.

“Unofficial reports have claimed that schools are closing down. Some proprietors are even putting up their schools for sale, so that they can go into other businesses. The recession has forced many parents, who used to pay their children’s fees before resumption, to plead to schools proprietors for understanding, so that they can pay in December. It has happened in my school, too,’’ he said.

As the recession bites harder, more schools appear to be crumbling under the impact. Others are struggling to survive the hard times. Burdened by non-payment of salaries and rising inflation, many parents have opted to withdraw their children from high-paying private schools to medium-priced private schools or public schools.

Recession cannot affect everybody but it's affecting majority of the people. Educationists who spoke described the situation as a “mixed bag of experiences”. In some of the schools, officials said there was no significant drop in attendance. But in others the proprietors lamented poor enrolment rate for the new session.