The cost of living around the world has been altered by recent national and international events. Even developed nations are not immune to the escalating commodity prices, which were initially caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and then exacerbated by the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The two nations at war are significant exporters of wheat and metals, among other products, which has hampered the supply of goods to developing nations that rely heavily on these exports.
Adding insult to injury, the war in northern Ethiopia has resulted in donor countries withholding funding, and the depreciating value of the Birr has diminished the purchasing power of the population. With imports experiencing significant price increases, consumers bear the brunt of the burden, with the poor often falling through the cracks with diminishing purchasing power.
Almost every aspect of people’s lives, including rent, groceries, gas prices, and clothing, whether considered a necessity or a luxury, has increased significantly.
Despite being a sector that has experienced a constant cost increase in a struggling economy, school tuition fees have remained somewhat stable over the past few years. Recent tuition spikes, however, have prompted complaints from parents.
School of Tomorrow is one of the schools that, according to parents, has seen a marked increase in tuition fees for the next year.
Samrawit Fekadu, a mother of three, asserts that tuition has jumped from approximately 9,000 birr per term (which lasts approximately two and a half months) to 22,000 birr. This has caused her to question the future enrollment of her children at the school in subsequent years.
The 43-year-old is categorized as middle class, owning her own bakery and having a stable life with their children while her husband works as an employee at a privately owned company. However, she is aware that it would be challenging to maintain their way of life as a consequence of the rise in tuition fees.
When Samrawit learned of the uptick in tuition fees, she knew they would have to drastically alter their lifestyle, as it would be difficult to pay 22,000 birr per month for three children.
“With the current tuition, we must pay approximately 27,000 birr per term for all of our children, which is a lot of money considering our other expenses, but we have been able to pay it and still live comfortably,” she says.
With the current price rise, however, Samrawit and her husband will be required to pay over 60,000 birr per term, or about 240,000 birr per year, for the education of their three children.
Samrawit and her husband are contemplating enrolling their children in a new, more affordable school as an outcome. But they will also face the challenge of locating a school with affordable tuition that provides the quality education they seek.
Due to the price increases, middle- and upper-middle-class individuals are reevaluating their plans for the coming years. People with relatively less expense-related stress have expressed astonishment at the sudden and significant increase in tuition fees.
Teshome Ashenafi, a 46-year-old father of one who sends his child to School of Tomorrow as well, leads a considerably well-off life compared to Samrawit and her family. Despite the fact that the tuition increase has less of a financial impact on him, he was nonetheless surprised by the extent of the increase.
“I have no intention of pulling my child out of school,” he remarked. Teshome intends to continue paying the tuition fee but is aware that a substantial portion of the parents who send their children to the school will find it challenging to continue paying for their children’s education.
“It would have been preferable if the increase had occurred in smaller increments as opposed to all at once,” he said.
Samuel WeldeKidan, the managing director of School of Tomorrow, explained what was behind the proposed 135 percent increase, which, according to him, has not yet occurred but is planned. The cost of everything else, according to Samuel, is gradually increasing or even tripling, yet there have been no tuition hikes at the school in the previous two years.
“Teachers and staff members will no longer be able to make ends meet with the pay checks we used to give them because the cost of nearly everything has risen dramatically in recent years,” Samuel said.
The Managing Director believes that in order to improve pay checks and ensure the school’s continued existence, a decision to substantially increase tuition fees was necessary.
School of Tomorrow is not the only institution rumored to have raised its fees. In fact, rumors have been circulating among parents of various schools who claim to have received letters or reminders regarding a possible tuition increase for the following academic year.
Implemented changes to tuition fees are prompting individuals in Samrawit’s situation to consider their next step. Samrawit is faced with the fact that she not only has to consider what is financially best for the family but also what is best for her children and their future.
“As a parent who desires to provide them with as many opportunities as feasible, this is a major concern of mine. But with tuition fees like these, I don’t know how to, and that is something I think other parents in my situation share as well,” Samrawit said.