A private school in Lagos Nigeria has called on parents/guardians to submit empty plastic bottles in exchange for payment of their children/wards school fees. Morit International School, situated at Iyalode Street, Ajegunle, Lagos, initiated the Recycles Pay Education project of African Clean-Up Initiative (ACI) to lessen financial burden on parents and ensure green environment.
You just have to pick plastic wastes to the school to pay fees in place of cash.
Unfortunately, the school compound is partitioned with plywood to create classrooms for crèche, nursery and primary classes while the plywood also serves as board for writing. It is not the most ideal place for learning.
The proprietor, Mr. Patrick Nbamarah, said the school which presently has a population of 120 pupils, was established about five years ago to provide affordable and quality education for children of low income earners.
It charges N7,200 ($20 US) for the crèche and nursery section while N8,200 ($22) is paid in the primary section per term. According to him, some parents still found it very difficult to pay and considered withdrawing their children after owing fees for several terms.
“My passion is to see all children of school age in school and because I do not want any of them roaming the streets during school hours, I sat down to think of an alternative way of meeting up with school fees because we also need money, however little, to run the school.
“I had previous knowledge of recycling. So in partnership with ACI, I contacted WeCyclers, a recycling company, on the issue. Afterwards, I called for a PTA meeting where I brought the matter to the table.
Each plastic sells for N1, which means, 7,200 plastics make up the fee for a nursery pupil while a pupil in the primary section needs to bring 8,200 empty plastic bottles. “The parents bring the plastics on designated days, while the recycling company buys from them and pays the money into the school account.
I only serve as a middleman, connecting the sellers to the buyer,” he said. Parents, he said, are allowed to bring the plastics in bits until the required quantity is met so as to reduce stress while those who cannot get the quantity required are allowed to balance it up with cash.
“We keep records of the plastics as they are brought in until they are completed. Surprisingly, the parents are enjoying the programme such that they want to turn us to their bank. They want the school to collect plastic wastes from them and give them cash to enable them attend to their other needs,” he said, adding that children are however not encouraged to go far from their homes in search of plastic wastes.
“It is a win-win situation, the environment wins, the children win, the parents win and the school wins. By next term, we will begin to collect empty sachets of water in exchange for school fees, we believe that if we take these wastes off the streets, mother earth will smile at us for saving it. This will also go a long way to remove plastic and nylon wastes from gutters, drainage and canals. So to us, this is the best thing that has happened to the environment,” he said as he encouraged other schools to emulate Morit.
“Though, the money from the waste plastic bottles is not much, it balances what the parents can afford. This initiative has significantly improved parents’ payment of school fees and at the same time taught children how to manage their wastes and promote a cleaner environment,” he said.
He urged environmentalists and governments to partner with the school on the programme by providing a larger space where parents can dump the empty plastic bottles for pick-up by the recycling company.
“Some parents can do far more than what they are doing now but because we don’t have space, they are limited. If there is space, we can do 10 tonnes in a week,” he noted.
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