“My friend Hamza is about to lose it. Child 1 – Shs1.3m, child 2 – Shs1.7m, child 3 – Shs2.1m and child 4 – Shs2.4m. Total: Shs7.52m. Where does a parent get all this money? What the hell is going on in this nation?” Beewol tweeted on January 4.
As I struggled to catch some sleep on a Tuesday night, I was drawn to this post that gained traction on Twitter. As I scrolled through the comments, I could feel the pain that parents go through.
But Beewol’s figure is incomplete. Parents still have to dig deeper in their pockets to raise shuttle fees and procure a long list of requirements for their children.
Forget the tweet for a moment. The real humour or insensitivity was in the comments. “But four children in this economy? How?” one of the comments read.
“Why didn’t he go for vasectomy?” one wondered. “I am not having children. How on earth can I start paying Shs2m for a child in Primary One?” “A full plot of land is going to be spent on fees in one term.” One of them mentioned that she needed Shs12m for her three children.
The comments went on and on but one that caught my attention was of a one Lorna Okeng, who wondered why parents were making unnecessary noise about tuition fees, yet they had 21 months to save up for their children’s fees, considering that schools have been closed. She raised an interesting perspective on financial management that rubbed some people the wrong way.
While Covid-19 has seen many businesses close shop and a number of people lose their jobs, parents are expected to raise this money within days if their children are to report back to school.
It is an open secret. Education is for the ‘haves’. There is no way around it. I wish to remind us that even our parents back in the day, save for bourgeoisies, struggled to pay fees. In fact, many parents have lived a life of servicing loans from banks and Saccos to keep their children in school. Others have sold land or animals to raise tuition. Because of this, some parents sacrificed their life’s pleasures, luxuries and desires. This is why many did not construct decent houses or did not own the Subarus we see on our streets today.
Paying school fees has always been a struggle. It is a painful lengthy sacrifice that all parents must come to terms with. It is that bill you and I will pay for 20 or so years. But if there is one thing this school fees season has taught me, it is to have children we can afford to raise. We cannot be naïve to believe the narrative of “have a fourth child. Children come with blessings. Give that boy a sibling. He has no one to play with”.
Let nobody lie to you. The business of raising children is expensive. And this is why couples need to reflect deeper about how many children they actually want, the kind of education they want them to attain, how costly it is and embark on a journey of planning for the tough financial times ahead.
Happy school fees week everybody.