Naira scarcity: NAPPS laments effect on students, teachers
•Schools procure POS to ease financial transactions: The frustrations arising from the prolonged scarcity of naira notes are beginning to hit hard on operations of schools and pupils in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, like other Nigerians and small businesses, as a result of the naira redesign policy of the Federal Government.
The Education Report gathered that many schools in the FCT have been forced to temporarily adjust their activities, particularly transit from one place to another that requires cash or other cash purchases, such of stationery.
It was also observed that, in some schools, point of sale (POS) machines have been procured and strategically deployed, while those that are yet to get theirs have engaged the services of nearby commercial POS operators to assist in the settlement of transactions with their clients, parents/guardians who pay for one service or the other in the school.
Chairman of the FCT chapter of the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS), Ruth Agboola, said the naira crunch has become so terrible that the day-to-day operations of member schools in the FCT are being affected greatly.
She said they were part of the larger society, hence not exempted from the challenges that befall the society when government introduces policies, good or bad. Besides, the naira note scarcity has touched everybody, irrespective of status in society.
“You know the situation of things in Nigeria regarding this naira note scarcity. I canʼt itemize the effect on schools now but we all know it hasnʼt been easy for individuals not to talk of schools,” she said.
An educationist, Mrs. Olusola Bankole, told The Education Report that schools have been greatly affected by the state of things in Nigeria, mainly as they concern the unavailability of naira notes and other economic challenges associated with the policy of naira redesign.
She said: “Everybody in the system is suffering from this thing but I think the teachers and other low-cadre staff of the schools are most hit with this situation. These workers have been forced to spend outside their budget to keep afloat.
These days, our teachers and these low-cadre staff spend more in terms of transportation and other purchases, and you can feel the pain and frustrations written all over the faces of these people. They are forced to buy money (naira) from POS operators at a higher rate, and that has affected their finances negatively.
In my school, for instance (names withheld), all my staff attend to their work on a daily basis, and thatʼs because they live around the school. But in so many other cases, staff and teachers are asked to stay home and work from there pending when things return to normal. Itʼs not easy for Nigerians at all.
“You must know that staying away from the school will affect the working strength of the school, and also has a negative impact on the learning of the children and other academic activities of the schools.”
Bankole also highlighted the negative impacts of the cash crunch on parents and their desire to provide the best things for their children, pointing to the fact that childrenʼs nutrition has been affected by the prolonged cash crunch in the system.
She said: “We always encourage parents to provide quality and nutritious food for their children, instead of junk and other processed foods. But this is no longer possible for the majority of the parents because of the situation we are in right now.
Parents too have their own barrage of complaints and they have tabled that before the schools. But thereʼs nothing the schools can do to solve the problem because itʼs a policy of the government and not that of the schools.
She added: “Many parents can no longer attach some of the nutritious food items like apples and other fruits that we recommended to the lunch box of their children as they used to do. This is not because they cannot afford it, but because they donʼt have access to cash to buy such things.
“Besides, electronic transactions and other related activities are not efficient. And in the places where they are available and efficient, customers are forced to pay extra money as service charge for whatever they must have bought or paid for. Itʼs a terrible and frustrating situation that we have found ourselves in, but we are hopeful that things would get better soon.
“The implication is that, in the long run, we would have children that are malnourished and that would affect their mental development. The teachers and other staff, many of them now spend double their budgeted transport fare, in addition to other unexpected spending. You can see and feel the unhappiness and frustration on their faces.
“In so many schools, teachers and other staff are no longer happy and joyful as they used to be because of increasing frustrations and unmet demands. These have affected their productivity and attitude toward the children in school .
At home, the same thing is applicable. Parents are faced daily with issues and challenges of life. They hardly meet the needs of their children, and in some cases, they pour anger on the children. They shout at any slightest provocation. Itʼs not their fault but the increasing frustrations we are in, in this country.
“Many children appear in school these days in different moods. They are afraid to express themselves because of the negative attitude and energy they got from people at home and school.”