The School Owner to many are mostly greedy, profit hungry entrepreneurs who could careless about the children in their businesses called a school! But is this really true? Full disclosure, I also am a school owner and I have been punching numbers for the last couple of weeks and was compelled by the results I was getting to come out and speak out in defence of the school owner.
Now let me say this from the onset. I am not saying that all school owners are without fault and that the perception most people have may not be true of some of us. What I am saying though is that not all school owners are greedy businessmen or women.
As a Montessori educator who has also had the privilege of training quite a number of school owners, I have found that so many of us actually have a vision of providing uniquely effective learning environments for our children so that our country can prosper as it should. Yes we are running a business and yes we want to make a profit, but contrary to popular belief this is not the driving force.
Owning a school to make money is not the why for a lot of school owners, if it were a lot more schools would easily have closed down.
In this post I would want to concentrate mainly on Teachers salaries, as this is a big bone of contention. A lot of us have felt scandalized that Graduates working in a school sometimes earn less than the minimum wage rate! And rightly so, but before we start name calling, please consider the following…
Some big established schools command high tuition, we will refer to these schools as Band A. Their tuition ranges between N150,000 to over N1,000,000 sometimes , right? These are per term figures. They have hundreds of children in the school. Sometimes they are over subscribed, yet their teachers are paid between N70,000 to N300,000 a month if they are lucky! Please do the maths! At an average of 20 Staff members, and 250 children in the school. Are my estimated figures of enrollment too high? I wish they were but we all know that they are not.
On the other hand you have the new or growing smaller schools, we will refer to these schools as Band B. Their tuition ranges between N25,000 to N150,000 a term. Parent’s complain that it is too much! (A lot of us will be reading this post, so correct me if I am wrong.) The schools pay their teachers between N15,000 to N50,000, the enrollment figures are usually between 50 to 400, sometimes less than 50! Please do the Maths again.
Then you have Band C schools whose tuition could range from as low as 1,500 to 25, 000, and they pay teachers between N3,500 and N20,000! Yes it is true, even around big cities, the FCT, this happens, and we know that especially in rural areas this is our reality when running private schools.
Obviously if you have lots of children in Band B for example, you should really be able to do much better than N20,000 if your tuition is on the higher bandwidth, but if the parents can only afford to pay N1,500 for private school placement, then really what are we talking about?
For me I see a broken system, that needs to be fixed from the top.
Blaming the School Owner will not help at all.
I do not say this lightly…
Imagine our country Nigeria, our minimum wage is N18,000 and yet our lawmakers earn on average over N20,000,000 a month. This is where the problem lies. We need to fix this from the top.
The problem is enormous!
There is a bible verse that says: ‘They are shepherds who lack understanding, they all turn to their own way, they seek their own gain.’
It’s time to deal with the real issue, wealth is not distributed fairly and this is why teacher’s earnings are so low.
The government needs to trim down and own up to its responsibilities on so many levels. School owners can mostly only operate fairly with what they have. Their location and ability of the parents in their community to pay will always influence teachers salaries.
Therefore if you are a parent, please before you start complaining about the amount teachers are paid do the Maths, how much are you paying as school fees?
If you are a big school owner and are paying high salaries, that is great, but please spare a thought for the struggling school owner who has less than 50 students in the school and keeps paying N18,000 to her graduate teachers.
If you do the calculations you will realize that she is barely able to hold her head up above the water, especially if the students are less than 30!
Should she close down?
I wouldn’t advice it if the mission and vision is right and she is learning and growing. Success and growth will come, it may be slow but it will come.
I know a school that did not have more than 10 students in its first six years, it was tough and the family wanted the owner to close shop. She didn’t, now the school is over 20 years old, a big and strong establishment of the choice schools in the community!
It is not school owners that are greedy, but it is those who lead us as a whole who need to wake up.
Let us appreciate those who are toiling day and night to help us build our nation.
I stand in defence of the school owner, even if I am one myself.