Parents with pupils at the Royal Family Academy in Abuja have accused the management of the school of disregarding their concerns and resorting to threats when they attempted to protest on the school premises on Monday.
Some of the parents told FIJ the protest became necessary after the management of the school unilaterally increased tuition fees by 50 percent despite earlier objections from them.
FIJ learnt that on the day of the planned protest, the school premises were heavily guarded by uniformed personnel, including officers from the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and the police, with the aim of preventing the protest from taking place.
A concerned parent, wishing to remain anonymous, expressed shock at the school’s decision to involve armed security forces in the matter instead of engaging in peaceful dialogue with the parents who are stakeholders in the school.
He explained that many parents arrived at the school as early as 7 am but were unable to protest due to the presence of uniformed personnel and deliberate delay tactics employed by the school.
“Some pastors standing at the gate kept telling us someone was coming to address us that Monday, but four hours later, no one came. And this shows that they were not interested in negotiation,” the parent told FIJ.
“They told us this four times. We felt like trash that day. All the school could have said was that they would look into the issue.”
According to the source, the parents collectively resolved to protest as their last resort to make the school management listen before the 50 percent increment became permanent.
He said that at the end of the last session, which ended in July, the school served parents a letter to communicate their plan to increase the school fee by 50 percent to which parents sternly refused.
“The Parents Teachers Progressive Forum (PTPF) executives had embarked upon a negotiation between the school and parents. The executives were negotiating an increase of 25 percent. That was the agreement, yet the school went ahead and increased the fees by 50 percent,” he said.
“They increased certain other additions, for instance, like the development levy, which used to be N100,000 to N300,000 for new entrants.
“They also added sports levy and health insurance, which we were not paying before, and an ICT certification fee they have been collecting for over three years, for which my kids have never received any ICT training except for playing games in the lab. Parents know this but have been silent. It is the increment that has now spurred parents into talking.”
A mother with a child in Grade Two at the Royal Family Academy recounted her futile attempt to protest the fee increase, emphasising that parents had planned a peaceful demonstration in front of the school to seek dialogue with the management but instead were met with a heavy police and FRSC presence.
“Parents were there from 7 am to 12 am, yet no one spoke to us. I then started wondering why a school would refuse to dialogue with parents (customers) and totally refuse them entry into the school compound. What kind of power is that?” she wondered.
She believed that the protest was necessary because her child’s fees had been increased from N288,000 to N577,000.
Another parent, whose daughter had been a student at the school for over a decade, told FIJ that the school resorted to hostilities to the extent that a day after the planned protest, security guards working for the school prevented three parents from conversing for long with one another after bringing their children to school.
Even worse, she said, is that the director of the school continues to openly tell the parents and teachers association executives that anyone not comfortable with the increment can take their kids off the school if they so desire.
She said the disregard for parents’ concerns has left many feeling offended, as they acknowledge the economic challenges but believe that a fee increase was warranted, albeit not to the extent imposed by the school.
When FIJ phoned Amina Mshelia, the director of the school, for comments on Wednesday, she declined to speak on the matter.
“It is not a matter that can be discussed over the phone. Please, send a mail to us instead,” she said.
FIJ subsequently sent an email to the school’s information desk for comments on the matter on Thursday morning, but it had not been responded to at press time.
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