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Does cost buttress academic quality in schools?

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If high tuition fees or low ones determine the quality of scholarship in schools only students of Ivy league institutions will graduate with first class and distinctions. NKIRUKA EZEDINUGWU writes:

A CAR salesman once said, “the biggest pitfall people face when buying a car is that they buy too much car”.

Too many People most times buy cars of say N2million when their financial statements say N1million vehicle is all they can afford.

The same tendency exists for many students and their parents when buying primary and secondary education.

Too often, they overbuy and they do so partly because they mistakenly believe that, as with automobiles, a higher price generally means higher quality. In automobiles, one always knows the kind of car one is buying and what it will cost, financing included.

What one pays for a car also bears some relation to the quality one receives. But it is not so for academia. Learning experiences are hard to predict, and there is no strong correlation between price and quality.

Sometimes, a parent pays for a Lexus, and at last gets a Camry. Sometimes a Chevy morphs into a Mercedes.

I have a friend who believes that quality of education has to do with the amount paid as school fees. This usually puts us on opposite sides as the arguments sometimes lead to quarrels. On meeting her recently, she was looking sombre, when I asked what the problem was, she lamented that one of her children in Junior Secondary 2, whose school fees is put at N165,000, per term, is to repeat a class.

The issue here is that my friend, a widow, does not earn that much to be able to pay that amount, she rather struggles and even borrow from friends and relatives to be able to foot her children’s education and now that the child is to repeat a class, it has cost her some devastation as she is yet to offset the bill of the previous term which was borrowed

This isn’t the old private school versus public school debate. Fact though, is that most parents and most people have this belief that the costlier it is to get education at some institutions, the higher the quality of education they will get.

The question now is, “Is it just a false belief by association (that quality of education is measured by the cost) or are those primary and secondary schools which charge ridiculously high tuition give better education than those ones that charge less? But I guess it is like everything else, people always place higher value on pricier products and services. We turn our noses at anything “cheap”, sometimes on face value.

In a land of inequality, education has a greater value than ever before and it can pave the path of success for children. However, many parents are financially crippling themselves in order to offer what is considered the ‘best’ education for their children, when this is arguably not wholly necessary.

In an unstable political and economic climate, in which certain human rights are sadly still far from inalienable, most parents understand that it is important to invest in their child’s welfare and future.

If value were to correspond directly with quality, it could be safely assumed that higher fees would equate to a higher standard of education. However, the worth of a service is often subjective and various factors should be taken into consideration before parents make assumptions about what higher school fees will buy.

However, the question begs whether there is a disparity between the quality of education obtainable in very expensive schools and their obviously affordable counterparts. It may be the case that some expensive schools are able to provide top-notch facilities, international curricular engagements for the pupils.

Reacting to this issue, Mr Ozoemena Omemgboji, a secondary school teacher, said, “From my experience, paying high fees for education does not automatically guarantee quality education.

Where I had studied was the most substandard government secondary school in which education was almost free.

We had like 75 students per class and four classes per stream. Sometimes, we were overcrowded too. The teacher ratio remained the same. Windows had no glasses and benches were broken .

But strangely, the school produced the best lot every year in that state, despite all the odds and hardship. In the end, it boils down to the mental strength and interest of the pupil. Otherwise, schools are just classrooms, desks and chalkboard.

When people can get through to certain schools through bribes, there remains no point for hard work. As education has become a procurable commodity, so quality and expense are becoming synonyms.

Otherwise, quality education could come from a petty government school as well.

For Mrs Okezie Eunice, “Expensive schools have their own advantages which I think outweighs the disadvantages. For instance, consider the reputations of these expensive schools.

I believe that the schools that charge higher tuition fees are likely to have a well known good reputation, so that if one says one studied there, already that person has an advantage over candidates whether it is for a job or other things.

Some may say it is not fair, but it does happen. Not all schools are created equal, and the fees almost always determine where in the hierarchy they fall. Expensive schools have highly qualified teachers, larger facilities, better amenities, better field trips, even better extracurricular activities. So, you see, in expensive schools, one gets what one pays for”.

But Mrs Mary Chukwueloka, a mother said “the classic remains that we still tend to associate higher school fees with the quality of education.

The fact that most parents forgo even their basic necessities in order to save for their children’s expensive tuition is not a new one. Some parents erroneously do this because they think that the more expensive the tuition, the better the quality of education obtained. But does this thinking have any basis in reality?”

“All I am saying is, if a parent is looking for a suitable school for his or her child, when reviewing options, it apt to ponder whether he will get his money’s worth, or if it would be equally well spent in a school with a different fee structure. Are you simply paying that huge sum because you heard many people are going there? Whatever you decide, do so with open eyes.

Parents should invest in their child’s future today by doing thorough research and ensuring their income will be able to foot the bills of whatever school they choose”.

“Providing quality education to their children is the ultimate dream for every parent. Quality education should not be about the course-based curricular only. It is an attempt to transform the students into good human beings, who can face the outside world with confidence.

Parents want the best for their children, and one way to achieve that is to become an educated buyer of education services, so that they don’t end up buying too much and taking on too much debt, thereby regretting at last.

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