Some clerics have defended church authorities accused of charging exorbitant fees, thereby making access by the less privileged to such schools impossible.
Speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Thursday, the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, said that the schools were concerned about quality education.
He said that comparing fees charged by government-owned schools with those owned by churches would not be fair because government schools were subsidised.
“When you say the fees are high, that means you are comparing it with the fees of the government schools.
“But there is no basis for comparison in the sense that the government is using our money to run the schools and to pay the teachers that is why all that the students are required to pay are subsidised.’’
Onaiyekan said the fact that staff of government-owned schools got their salaries from government made it possible for their fees to be more affordable.
“Government school members of staff get their salary from the Ministry of Education and even the schools are built and funded with government money.’’
He said that attempts by church-owned schools to collaborate with government in the past affected discipline in the schools.
“Government’s attempt to collaborate with the church in the past was effective, but government took over the complete running of the schools afterwards.
“This affected discipline, church policies as well as discipline in the schools and the churches decided we cannot just sit down and watch.
“Catholic schools, especially, when government took over schools and the policies were no longer the way we wanted, the discipline was no longer the same; we started building schools which practically became like private schools.’’
He said that it was not right for churches to build schools and depend on charity to run such schools except for the children’s parents to give sufficient money to keep these schools running.
In a separate interview, Rev. Musa Asake, the General Secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and former General Secretary ECWA, admitted that the fees were high.
Asake, however, said that the fees were high because of the need to maintain the teachers and the students in the schools.
According to him, education in government-owned schools lacked the required moral upbringing of students which church-owned schools provide.
“The school fees are high because it is actually to maintain the teachers and the students in the school.”