UNILAG FEE HIKE: ERC DEMANDS IMMEDIATE REVERSAL
For a united struggle of students and education workers to fight for improved funding of public education and democratic management of schools
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) sternly condemns the recent fee increment announced by the management of the University of Lagos.
We consider this increment as cruel, anti-poor and unjustifiable. We call for immediate protests and demonstrations to reject the wave of fee hike across the country and demand that government fund public education adequately and ensure democratic management of schools.
As far as we are concerned, this fee hike confirms our warning that the Students loan policy is a deceptive ploy by President Tinubu’s anti-poor government to officially hands-off the funding of public education while shifting the burden to parents and students especially those from working class and poor background.
We urge the leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) to withdraw its support for the Students Loan. We in the ERC condemn NANS for supporting the policy. Now we think that the current situation ought to convince the NANS leadership that they had made a terrible mistake. Now we challenge the NANS leadership to immediately and urgently convene a national congress of students so that rank and file students, union leaders and activists from across the country are able to hold a democratic discussion on how to resist the onslaught on public education. We encourage student activists and union leaders, should the NANS leadership fail to heed this call, to commence a signature campaign across campuses to demand that such a national congress be convened immediately.
The announced fee regime at the University of Lagos will see both new and returning undergraduate students pay as high as N190,000 as against the N19,000 previously charged. No soothsayer is needed to realize that many students will have to forfeit their admission or drop out of school if this callous increment is successfully forced on students. It is, therefore, extremely important for students and education workers to jointly struggle to reject this calamitous increment.
This increment is happening at a critical point when the working masses are faced with myriads of crises which include petrol subsidy removal and naira devaluation. The purchasing power of many working class families has been crushed by inflation and other attacks on their living condition. Therefore, an increment in fees is synonymous to moving thousands of students from frying pan into a fiercely burning fire.
The management of UNILAG has hinged the increment on lack of adequate funding and the need to improve the facilities, while also citing that University cannot run effectively without the increment. There is nothing new in these claims.
These have always been the watchword of draconian administrators of tertiary institutions whenever they want to carry out such sinister action. Yet, increment in fees has never resulted into any improvement in facilities. State owned universities charge more than the federal universities without delivering any quality service to reckon with.
It is crystal clear that the university management is only being deceitful. Besides, the responsibility of improving facilities is that of the government and must not be placed on students. However, government allocation to universities and the general finance of universities must be placed under democratic control of elected representatives of education workers and students in order to ensure their judicious use, as against mismanagement which is usually the case.
It is important to note that the university management is not acting alone in this crime against Nigerian masses, the Tinubu administration and previous administrations which have also carried out capitalist policies aimed at depriving children of the working masses access to education are all culpable in this crime.
Over the years, the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) has been at the forefront of campaign for proper funding of the education sector to ensure all Nigerian students have access to quality education. We do not agree with the lies of the government that the country is not rich enough to fund the education sector. For example, the outrageous salaries and emoluments of political office holders, if redirected to the education sector will add more to the resources needed to ensure no student is denied access to quality education.
We believe that with a democratic plan of Nigeria’s economy and judicious use of resources, there should be more than enough to ensure all students have access to quality education. This is why we demand that the oil and gas sector, mines, banks and big agro-allied firms be placed under public ownership and workers democratic management to permit the rescue of Nigeria’s enormous wealth currently trapped in the hands of a few big billionaires so they can be used to fund public education and social services.
This important step if linked with putting an end to the inequitable system of capitalism and the implementation of a Socialist plan can ensure the all-round development of the country in such a way that mass illiteracy, poverty, unemployment and backwardness are banished on a permanent basis.
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The signs are there that the present administration is bracing up for an all-out attack on public education and other rights of citizens. Already, fees in University of Abuja, University of Benin, government unity school, university of Calabar, among others, have been hiked in different dubious ways. This is aside the plan of the government to introduce tuition fees. Students and education workers must be prepared to launch a determined struggle against these attacks as the only way of rescuing the education sector from the neo-liberal claws of the Tinubu administration and the ruling class.
Deputy National Coordinator
Adaramoye Michael Lenin
National Mobilization Officer