Recession and Coping with Back-to-School Pressure


 Saturday, September 10, 2016 7.00AM / Taiwo Ologbon-Ori  

“Back-to-school” is term often used to categorise the commencement of a new school session. This period is one in which students and their parents/guardians purchase school needs, traditionally patronise sales for the upcoming new session. At the moment, this period has come with double pressure of low purchasing power and growing cost, as recession sets in. This article, as a follow up to our previous articles on recession, would not pretend to have all solutions to these issues, but will share some real practical experiences with you to learn from or take as a guide. 

The cost of education has been on the high side and is still rising. With all indications and facts available, the cost is hitting a new high at the moment as schools have no choice but to review tuition upwards- this is not happening in private schools only; Federal Government (FG) colleges have also followed the same trend. This can be largely attributed to the increasing cost of operations which has become unbearable due to high inflation.  

Due to new unfriendly economic realities, schools are adjusting their bills to accommodate the unprecedented hike in overheads and operating cost, which are usually been transferred to parents. In the public sectors, FG schools have increased school tuition from 20k to 70k, and same in private sector for instance, when my daughter was writing entrance exams into a New High School (Private), the bill we got from the school was around 190k, but now the new bill is 236k (after serious scrutiny). This is just to give you an idea of what average parents are likely to be facing at the moment. 

This time around, it is unfortunate that the “back-to-school” pressure coincides with the pressure of a first recession after about 29years. Without economic palliatives from the FG, parents are to battle the current 3-in-1 hard times with limited resources i.e.  the pressure of financing festive-period (Eid-el-Kabir), Back-to-school needs and the early-effect of recession.  

Considering the economic emergency on our hands, it is so disheartening that our legislative arm of government could afford to extend their recess period till after Salah-break, when the economy needs urgent and emergency legislations to tackle first-level-effect of recession, knowing well that the masses would need buffers and basic palliatives as the impact of recession is fast depleting standard of living beyond expectations. One of the first-level-effects of recession is about to hit every households as our children are set to go back to school in September, precisely from September 18th 2016. Many parents would experience the first bite of recession as school bills are really intimidating at the moment.  

Parents of returning students can still leverage on old relationships with schools to manage the situation to suit their cash-flow pattern. Though, interactions with parents within the neighbourhood reveals that schools are deploying rigid measures this time around. On the other hand, the parents of new-intakes into new schools may have less or no leverage. 

My heart goes to my neighbour- a public school teacher with three children, 2 are in the university, while the last born is graduating into high school, just like my daughter. The feeling i got last was that they can’t afford the bills of a private high school for the boy since his FG school entrance exam was not favourable. Now they are stuck. 

This article, as a follow up to my previous articles on recession, would not pretend to have all solutions to these issues, but will share some real practical experience with you to learn from or take as guide. From personal experience as a person raised by a retired head mistress, retired high school principal and also married to a trained teacher and a counsellor by profession, i have some insider knowledge on this issue, which can be of use to you. 

Likely steps or tips to tackle back to school pressure during recession  

First and foremost, you need to understand that borrowing from banks or discount houses to finance back-to-school is not sustainable and is unhealthy during recession- you are only building up liabilities as banks make money off you tremendously. 

So, it is important and necessary for you to have a written budget plan, stay within your income and budget to survive this recession, without this mindset and personal discipline, you may experience serious economic bashing. Please note that You need to do the budget plan with inputs from your child(ren), just to have his/her approval on certain things like bags & school sandals etc, if not your female child may disappoint you with shocking attitudes.  Learn more about this from my previous article on how to swim heavy current during economic recession and how to plan your personal income in recession. 

For high profile schools, you might need to consider these few alternatives fast,   

  • ·    Change to better schools that are not expensive but have same quality of teaching curriculum, quality learning environment and quality teaching personnel. Don’t just change school, research and compare teaching curriculum and methodologies. Most high profile schools are extremely over-priced without valid justifications. From findings, some of them had acquired bank loans to finance their inorganic growth and expansion, finance interest on these loans are accumulating and they are transferring these to parents and staff in very cunning ways. The banks and owner of schools are making money off you- so wake up

  • Also, you may choose to ignore all optional items or extra curricula activities like swimming, karate, and music etc. You may also choose to hire a private tutor for your kids or allow them join nearby karate/swimming/taekwondo/chess class. Believe me, you will find it cheaper at negotiable price. You may save close to 10% from this cost-cutting initiative.
  • School Text books and study materials are extremely cheap outside as against school bookshop prices. There is no law that says you must buy from schools. Don’t subscribe or buy text books and study materials from schools.  Demand for the list and get them yourself outside- you will be shocked at how much you will safe, usually around 8% of total school fees. 
  • Also, be wary of school uniform syndicate. In most of these private schools, school uniforms are imported, so they are always expensive. I used to buy just one set, then searched for the materials locally and got it sewn for my daughter, believe me same quality materials are available in Lagos markets.
  • In addition, there is no law that says the textbooks must be new, search for senior colleagues in your child's school and buy the previous year textbooks at a ridiculous price, the class teacher of your child can help you out with this. It works believe me. You can safe 75% of cost on textbooks. Though, some schools have turned the textbooks to workbook now- so this might not work always.
  • Conclusively, as a parent of a Muslim faith, i am contending with back-to-school pressure, Ileya-Festival (Eid-el-kabir) expenses amid limited resources. I am still very much in search of alternatives while deploying my cost-cutting initiatives on back-to-school expenses. I would seriously advise you to keep track of this year's expenses to help figure out you budget next year.  

Sample of Cost-cutting exercise   


Important note  

Keep notes about what you discover or learn, like where the best affordable bookshops are and when the sales period starts. They'll come in handy a year from now. And if the cost-savings decisions help you, use it as a teachable moment to talk to your child on how to save-money. i.e. get your child involved in back-to-school budgeting- it is a great way to teach him/her about planning, budgeting and money management. You will be surprised that kids can help compare costs more accurately. Put him/her in charge of looking for cheap/affordable deals (school bags and sandals) to stay within budget. Use back-to-school management as an opportunity to lay the foundation for helping your child(ren) develop sound money management habits early and build organizational skills. Help them understand the difference between needs, wants and order of needs. 

While we would appreciate your feedbacks, we would also like to encourage you to share your experience with us on your survival moves, options taken and what more you would like to know. Kindly send in your personal stories, views and comments to and 

Keep a date with us as we bring more article(s) on dealing with #RecessionInNigeria 

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