Lecturers, Parents Join Students To Protest Fee Hikes, Call For More Funding

As the economic hardship gets tougher in the country, parents and lecturers have joined students in protesting fee hikes being implemented by most universities across the country.

Lecturers, parents and students warned about the possibility of mass dropouts of students following the hikes in fees by the universities across the country.

Naija News reports that in the last few days, students of various universities have staged protests to express their displeasure about the surge in fees and other levies.

On Tuesday, aggrieved students of the University of Jos, Plateau State, blocked the roads leading to their campus in protest and demanded a reversal of the increase in fees and other levies imposed by the university.

Similarly, on Wednesday, students of the University of Lagos, protested the fee hike. Yesterday’s action was the second protest to be staged by the UNILAG students.

This platform recalls that fee hikes in some federal universities began following the suspension of the eight-month strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in October 2022.

The universities which hiked their fees included the Federal University of Health Sciences, Azare; University of Maiduguri; Federal University, Dutse; Federal University, Lafia; University of Uyo; Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, among others.

So far in 2023, the Bayero University, Kano; University of Lagos, Akoka; University of Jos; and the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, University of Nigeria Nsukka have also announced fee increments.

The universities, in separate memos, attributed the development to the rising cost of learning materials and the need to adequately fund activities in their respective institutions.

Reacting to the development, the National President, of ASUU, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, kicked against fee increases, saying the university is not a profit-making commercial centre.

According to him, despite the fact that the Nigerian Constitution prescribed free education, parents have to pay through their noses for it.

The ASUU boss argued that the ugly incident is because Nigeria is not adequately funding the education sector, and with the look of things, no nation can stand the high school dropout rate.

According to The Punch, Osodeke appealed to the Federal  Government to give priority to education, adding that the universities were poorly funded.

The don stated, “The university is not a commercial centre where you break even or not. The constitution says education should be free, but parents are already paying for the fee increment.

‘’Why is Nigeria not doing what other African countries are doing? The West African average says budgetary allocation for education should be between 15 and 20 per cent but here in Nigeria. We got just 3.8 per cent last year.

‘’No educational system will survive with this, and a lot of our students will drop out. We should not allow our children to become nuisances on the streets; the government should handle education the way it was done in the 70s and 80s.

‘’The N11m that the government gives the UNILAG for one month is not even enough to cover its electricity bill for that month, whereas senators earn more than this.

”The government should give priority to education at primary, secondary, and university levels. Go around, and you’ll see children roaming around; this is going to be a problem for our country in the future, while the children of the rich are paying millions to get an education outside the country.’’

Also reacting, the National President, of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities ( SSANU ), Mr Ibrahim Mohammed, alleged that the government was not properly funding the universities and that without government funding, things wouldn’t be that easy.

He stated ‘‘Government should prioritise its needs and let us know if it wants to have universities or close them down. If they don’t want universities to charge fees, they should fund them or close them down.

‘’The VCs are not happy to increase the fees, but they are forced to do so. The government should go back to the drawing board. The minister promised to hit the ground running, but till now, nothing has been done by the ministry, instead, they are trying to hit the heads of universities’ management against that of their students. The government should give universities funding.’’

Similarly, the National Parents Teachers Association of Nigeria cautioned federal universities across the country against the fee hike.

The National President of the association, Haruna Danjuma, told the platform that the failure of the institutions to revert to the old fees would force many students out of school, leading to high crime rates.

Danjuma also called on President Bola Tinubu to finance the education sector with the money saved from the removal of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit, popularly known as petrol.

He said, “We are still waiting for what will be the outcome of Mr President’s directive on the increment in fees. Recall that even before the president’s directive, the National Assembly called for a halt in the increment of fees across federal universities.

‘’I’m however surprised that some of these universities are still increasing their fees. What we know is that before a university can announce a hike, they will get permission from the National Universities Commission and the Federal Ministry of Education.

“The hike is a threat to students and we as a body of parents are very much concerned. Our children are complaining. We have students that are also self- sponsored and are scared of dropping out of school.

‘’Further hikes and failure to reverse the current hike will force more students out of school, and this will lead to students turning to crimes such as ‘yahoo yahoo,’ kidnapping, among others.

“The government must do all it takes to address this matter. The money from the fuel subsidy should be used to finance education and attend to the needs of institutions and their staff. We also call on parents across states to continue to hold dialogues with these schools on the way forward.”

The post Lecturers, Parents Join Students To Protest Fee Hikes, Call For More Funding appeared first on Naija News.

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