Loving Our Kids And Our Poverty-School Fees Woes

Nonofo Tsedi

Schools are starting soon especially private schools and so is our stress levels/high blood about school fees!
We all love our kids and we want what’s best for them. We, at times, want to give them what we did not have or give them what our parents gave us. We know kids have the right to quality education but we all cannot afford such “quality” education for our kids.
Private schools are “supposedly” providers of quality education and our government schools not so much. It was recently announced by the Ministry of Basic Education that classes in secondary schools are beyond the stipulated /allowable number of pupils in a class, and this to me directly translates to disaster in the performance of our kids. Therefore, I really don’t have any hope for “quality” education in those instances unless you as a parent play your part in the education of your kids. With this resonating in our minds I’m sure some parents are thinking of taking their kids to a private school in the hope of a better education hence a better future.
Private schools offer “quality” education at a price. Money is a pre-requisite for these schools. “Show me the money and I will show you the education”. Apart from the “quality” education they also offer the kids the chance to “twang” speak English like patriots from our mother hen “England”.  Yes, those private school kids sure can talk the queen’s language but let me whisper something to you guys, not all can write it so well, yes, I have said it, sue me.
Okay let’s not get derailed the issue here is money, your money. The issue here is can you afford to educate your kids at a private school?
I’m sure there are parents right now who are really busy trying to get money to pay for atleast 1month of the term fees, just so the kid can attend school when it opens. There is also a parent right now who is getting her/himself in a debt that he/she really cannot afford, just so the kids can have “quality” education. Let’s not forget that with private schools, school fees are not the only thing to worry about when it comes to money. There is;
• Mopako (packed lunches/breakfast): food is not offered at schools so kids need to bring their own or bring lunch money to buy from tuck-shops. This is money.
• Swimming/physical education (PE): swimming is an additional cost to the school fees and even if it’s not trust me it’s factored somewhere in the school fees, and also now you have to buy swim wear of a certain colour (it’s a part of the school uniform) kids cannot come with their rainbow swim wears that they have at home. This is money.
•     Taxi/school bus: if you are unlucky and you cannot drop and pick your kids from school now you have to pay for a taxi to do the job on your behalf. This is money
•     Gymnastics/monkeynastix; these are additional cost to the school fees, and do you know the way the school is set-up it’s hard not to pay for these because you know how kids are, they will cry and whine that whoever (their friends at school) are doing this and that, and teachers will tell you that your kids are the only ones not participating and guilt will start on you, then bam you fork out cash. This is money.
•     School trips; let’s not forget those once a term school trips and or some activities that happens in school that you as parents need to pay for. This is money.
•     Tutoring: sometimes the kid(s) are not doing well and you are forced to find additional help for them (tutoring). This is money.
With the above can you afford school fees? Guess what it does not end there, there are still some issues to contend with when it comes to private schools, being;
The social pressures experienced by the kids in schools which are innocently exerted by other “rich” kids, e.g. “I and my parents went on holiday in France #withthetwang, I and my parents went swimming at some expensive hotel over the weekend.”
Apart from the talks there are issues of clothes, I remember the pressures I used to put on my parents because I did not want to wear some cheap clothes, I wanted certain labels so as to fit in, even the car your parents drive, an ugly or cheap car is a no-no, even where you stay has to be on point, a kid from a one-room house would really be under pressure at school.
Okay your kid(s) can “twang” then what, speaking eloquent English is not a guarantee of kid(s) passing with flying colours, it is also not a guarantee that they will make it in life, it’s not a guarantee that they would find a better job nor be better business people, it just means they can express themselves better in English. Mind you English speaking is not a measure of intelligence nor is it a measure of success. Right here in Botswana we have foreigners who can hardly finish an English sentence but they are doing way better than us “twangs” yes, I’m one of the twangs with a government school background.
I think it is emotionally and psychologically disturbing for kids to witness their parents struggle just to make ends meet because of them. They end up blaming themselves for their parents’ struggles. They become ashamed of their situation, their background, and their parents (some kids are ashamed of their parents).
If you cannot afford to pay for the above whilst still offering your kids a quality life (a loving home etc) and better inheritance (assets) then maybe just maybe you must re-think the private school.
All is not lost you can still offer your kids quality education even at government institutions by;
•     Hiring a tutor: to further supplement bet you can afford because you are not paying steep school fees.
•     Buying a home computer and having internet: the kids can use it to research and be informative.
•     Being very involved with your kids’ education as you would have been if you knew you were losing a fortune in their education (paying school fees). If your kids perform better they could even get a sponsor to attend an elite private school, so be involved 100%.
•     Holidaying: without the cost of school fees you can afford to go on holidays with your kids and show them the world without bankrupting yourself.
•     You can offer kids far more even swimming lessons without bankrupting yourselves
Let’s not love our kids to our poverty, it’s okay for kids to attend a government school if you cannot afford a private school. You will sleep better, hence be more loving to your kids which will in turn be beneficial to the kid(s).
You only have one life to live and how you live it is 100% up to you. The choices you make now determine your financial well-being in future.