Socialist Youth League SYL, condemns the wave of tuition fee increment that is sweeping through Nigerian universities and other tertiary institutions. It will price tertiary education out of the reach of children and wards of working-class people without resolving the crisis of the education sector.
It is not news anymore that the Nigerian educational sector is close to death and has been placed on life support. The reason for this lies in the fact that the rulers of our country do not prioritise public education in Nigeria because their own children attend the best universities overseas or expensive private universities in Nigeria.
The per capita funding of education has steadily declined over the last decades, despite the bold struggle of unions in the sector, particularly the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) for improved funding. This has increasingly led to the availability of quality tertiary education to the rich only. The libraries and laboratories in public universities are nothing to write home about. Classrooms and lecture halls are overcrowded and hostels have turned into slums.
But we have resisted this situation. The struggles to see that education is funded just as the Nigerian constitution has expressly stated under section 18, 1999 CFRN can be seen from the series of academic strikes by university lectures where on several occasions, they have had to put a temporary stoppage to academic academics to make the federal government pay necessary attention to education for the benefit of today’s students from poor homes, and the future of our society.
A well-educated society is an enlightened society that is better prepared for taking developmental strides. In the wake of the 8-month ASUU strike in 2022, the ruling class went on the offensive to further the commodification and commercialisation of education.
This offensive includes a proposed tuition increase and student loans that will cause lifelong debt for students from low-income backgrounds. The Socialist Youth League totally condemns such a cancerous and tyrannical idea to increase fees which students are still struggling tooth and nail to pay.
We must resist this wave of increases in tuition fees with all our might as students. And we must win support from the working class and our communities to stop the wave of commercialisation of education in its tracks.
It would bring hardship and injustice. The massive amount of students who cannot afford such payment exposes the unfairness and injustice of the idea of increasing tuition fees.
The salaries and wages of our working-class parents, who are the ones paying the fees of their children, have remained the same and have not been increased. Rather, they have decreased in real terms as a result of runaway inflation. It will be unjust to increase the burden they are already bearing due to the unending greed of the ruling class.
It should be known that as a result of the pocket tearing fees, many parents have already withdrawn their wards from higher institutions and several students who have been catering for themselves have had no option but to drop out.
At the University of Ibadan, the looming tuition fee increment has become common knowledge and is making many students doubt whether they would be able to register for the next session. At Olabisi Onabanjo University where the lowest school fee is over N91,000, it has been gathered that the institution already introduced a ‘Study and Work’ policy where students who have craft skills and other talents could work for the school and earn stipends.
The idea behind the policy is to help students who for financial constraint, drop out of school. While it may seem like a good idea to engage students with craft skills and give them stipends, this intervention cannot curb the dropping out of school by students because the school fees and expenses remain unaffordable to many. How much stipends can a student save up to pay for the fees? The simple fact remains that education has to be funded by the government as public education, to make education accessible to all and sundry. We demand universal access to free and qualitative education at all tiers of the education sector.
That there are not enough resources is false. Priority is key. Nigerian legislators are some of the best-paid, and least productive in the world. Those in power steal billions, if not trillions, of naira every year, and very few of them ever go to jail. These are what have to be stopped to enable adequate domestic mobilisation of resources for our education.
With this, we say NO to underfunding of education. We say NO, to increase the tuition fee. Education is a right and not a privilege!!
Aluta Continua! Vitoria e cérta!!
Socialist Youth League (SYL)
Press Statement: 28 May 2023