A report by SaharaReporters has revealed that the parents of pupils attending the Shell Petroleum company's Primary School located at Edjeba Estate, Warri, Delta State, have expressed displeasure over the recent hike in school fees by the school authorities without any consultation with the parents.
SaharaReporters learnt that the parents are now at daggers drawn with the school management board over the increase in school fees imposed on them.
An executive member of the Parents Teachers Association, (PTA) of the school who pleaded for anonymity for fear of sanction said the action of the school management board without carrying the parents along was pitiable, adding that there could be crisis in the school if the increment was not reversed.
"The timing of this unjustified hike in the school fees is deliberate by the school management to arm-twist us parents to pay these new imposed fees because it won't be easy for parents to pull their children out of the school during the third term.
“This is never done even in public schools anywhere in Nigeria. The management is desperate to extort parents using such illegal, provocative and unconventional method. Why didn't the school management take such decision before the start of a new academic session that begins in first term so as to enable parents decide early enough whether to continue to have their children in the school or not? Why did they have to wait till this third term to do this?
"This is criminal breach of contract. The school management must be warned of the dire consequences of this crime. Despite the peaceful moves made by parents and their Parents Teachers Association (PTA) to resolve this impasse, the school management board on Tuesday locked out our children from their classrooms and dumped them in a hall for hours like common criminals.
“Our children were so traumatised that many cried all through the day till they got home because they had never had this sad experience.”
Another parent said, “By this decision, SHELL is now imposing a new school fee of about N200,000 per term on primary school pupils at a time that the economic situation in Warri had crashed and become almost hopeless after this same company pulled out its administrative structures and offices from Warri.
“What else does Shell want from the people whose oil it exploited for years, made huge money from but ended up abandoning? Even the standard of education and management of the school have deteriorated and become very poor but we just try to tolerate even if we have to recruit private home lesson teachers for our children to make up for the gross inadequacies in the teachings.”
SaharaReporters gathered that the chairman of the Parents/Teachers Association, Lucky Edun had issued a stern warning to the school management board that he was ready to mobilise parents to "rock the boat.”
The school management had in a circular obtained by SaharaReporters, titled "Attention! Attention!! Attention!!!" to parents read thus: "Good Afternoon Highly Esteemed Parents. We wish to thank you all for your measure of understanding and cooperation in the present trying economic situation. NOTICE OF FEE DRIVE. This is to formally inform all parents that fee drive starts Monday, 9th May, 2022. All receipts of fee payment should be registered in the bursar's office latest Monday morning, if not done already. By this notice, any learner without an evidence of part payment by Monday, 9th May, 2022, will not be allowed into the classroom. Thanks for your anticipated usual cooperation. Management."
In another circular by the school management to the parents titled "A Final Reminder To All Basic 4 Fees Defaulters", reads thus: "This is to remind all basic 4 parents/guardians who are yet to pay at least 80% of their children/wards' fees to do so between now and Friday 13th May or keep them at home as such learners shall not be allowed into classes as from Monday 16th May, 2022. The new extension is in consideration of the fact that some parents have come to seek our understanding and appealed for a little more time. We do hope to get your maximum cooperation in this regard. Thanks. School management."
Some other parents appealed to the state governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, to as a matter of urgency intervene in the matter.