They say that the past is the past, and will never be coming back. But it always amazes me how the past does not really leave our memories. Not every memories of the past stay crystal clear in our memories, but they are there anyway, and may become crystal clear when triggered by something.
One of the things that stay clear in our memories is our school days. Some people may even be able to describe specific moments in their childhood as if it happened yesterday. Sometimes we may not remember the exact events, but the experiences we had as a child, the state of emotions we were in, often come flooding back during adulthood.
I would like to say a bit about what the schools we went to leave in us as adults. I personally went to an international school in Addis that was and is still a respected one in the capital and the country as a whole. During those days, it meant something to attend in that school. People suddenly have a completely different perception of you when you tell them that you went to that school.
We would often consider ourselves to be special, and not children who should be hanging out with “local” schoolgirls and boys. By “local” I particularly mean those who went to public schools in the city. Back then, it was pretty common for parents to send their children to public schools. Today, I can say that people from low income households would send their children to a public school.
There are many private schools opened in the city, and you will find a dozen even without leaving your neighborhood. There were not many private schools to speak off back then and when someone tells you that they went to a private school in the city, you would know instantly which school it is, when the person tells you.
Seeing these private schools sprout in every corner of the city, many of which do not have their own compounds and simply rent private villas, I usually wonder if it means anything special to go to a private school. Does anyone know for sure the quality of education offered by those schools, and if they really differ from the quality of education in public schools?
Many of us who went to a public school have, I believe, a “bad memory” of the label that came with going to a public school. So, they would do anything to enroll their children to a private school, regardless of whether that private school has enough of a good track record demonstrating the quality of education it offers. The saddest thing is that parents struggle to pay school fees for these private schools, which by the way, are never endingly increasing over the school years. Sometimes you wonder, is it all worth it?
In the past couple of weeks, I was scouting for schools I can send my daughter too. So, I visited some schools that had a popular name in the city and which had student’s graduate for some years now. I have to say that I was astonished by the price that some of them charge. Simply astonished!
Some of the schools even set their prices in USD. I believe that is a smart move on their part because they understood that the only way to avoid the yearly quarrel with parents on whether to raise tuition fees or not, is to set their prices in USD. And as we all know it, the value of the birr is depreciating and the USD is increasing at an alarming rate over the months, let alone over the years. I wonder how parents manage to pay school fees of these schools especially when these parents are employees of a company that pays them a salary fixed in birr.
With the USD increasing, these parents should expect tuition fees to double within a matter of two or three years! And this is in spite of the close to stagnant rate of increase in the salaries that their employers offer them. What is even amazing is that, although the schools have the word ‘international’ in their names, over ninety percent of their staff and students are Ethiopians! Just amazing!
So, is it really worth it to kill ourselves to send our children to these overpriced private “international’ schools?