“Gradually, qualitative education is getting restricted to the wards and children of the rich all over Nigeria”.
Hundreds of Ogun State students in tertiary Institutions on Wednesday stormed the governor’s office in Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, protesting what they described as astronomical increase in tuition fees.
The protest is coming barely twenty-four hours after a clash between soldiers and students of Taiwo Solarin University of Education, TASUED, Ijebu-Ode. The TASUED students were protesting their exclusion from examinations for failing to pay school fees.
Students under the banner of National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, Ogun State, argued that the increase in tuition fee is meant to restrict access to education for children of the poor.
The protesters were seen with various placards such as ‘Education must be free’, ‘Say no to school fees increment’, ‘Save education in Ogun State’, ‘Say no to callous policies’, ‘Say no to Police and Op-Mesa’ among others.
Speaking at the governor’s office, venue of the protest, the state chairman of NANS, Falola Ahmed, said that many students from poor homes have been forced to abandon their academic pursuit as a result of the hike.
“Gradually, qualitative education is getting restricted to the wards and children of the rich all over Nigeria. Perhaps, Ogun State isn’t exempted because the astronomical increment in tuition fee has drastically inflated the percentage of drop out on our campuses in Ogun State”.
“Those who were elated about gaining admission to one of Ogun State Tertiary Institutions are sent back home untimely to their parents due to unavoidable school fees,” Mr. Ahmed said.
He also said that the present the fees for the Ogun State tertiary institutions are outrageous.
“We can’t keep mute pretending all is well. Verily all man has a price, but not all men are for sale. Any Nigerian government that doesn’t preach, pursue and prosecute free education at all levels will be regarded as Nigerian students’ number one enemy.
“It is highly pathetic that those who benefited from Awo’s free education are infringing pain on us today. On behalf of the 35,000 tertiary institution students of Ogun State, we seize this medium to call on the attention of the state government to please fulfil their long term pledge of 50 per cent reduction in tuition fees as once declared by His Excellency, Senator Ibikunle Amosun.”
The students said the government, on average, increased fees at the Tai Solarin University of Education from N53,750 to N88,750; at Tai Solarin College of Education, from N36,700 to N40,850; Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, from N44,800 to N62,300; and Olabisi Onabanjo University, from N82,000 to N140,000.
Responding to the students, the Secretary to State Government, Adeoluwa Taiwo, promised that government would continue to take steps to make education affordable and also upgrade infrastructure in their institutions to make learning more conducive for them.
He, however, said government alone cannot shoulder the responsibility of providing affordable and qualitative education, particularly at the tertiary level; and called on all stakeholders to partner with the government to achieve an all-round quality education for the citizens.
Mr. Taiwo said government is heavily investing in education and urged the parents and students to play their parts by paying their school fees promptly.
“Tertiary education in Ogun State as you know is not free but heavily subsidized. If there are issues like late payment, we can look into that,” he said.
On the alleged harassment of some students of the Tai Solarin University of Education, TASUED, Ijagun, by security agents on Tuesday, the governor promised to investigate the incident.
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