Fee Battle Looms in Lagos State University
Fee Battle Looms in Lagos State University
The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) government in Lagos state has announced a 725% increment in fees payable by students of Lagos State University (LASU). The highest fee proposed for medical students is N348, 750 – several times higher than the minimum wage!
Coming on the heels of harsh anti-poor attacks (planned removal of oil subsidy and electricity tariff hike) by the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) Federal government, this latest fee increment is beginning to show clearly the consensus of all political parties including the ACN on attacks on the living conditions of young people, students and workers.
The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) has always argued that there is no fundamental difference between the ACN and the PDP. They both defend the same neo-liberal and anti-poor policies of removal of fuel subsidy, deregulation, fuel price hike, education commercialization and privatization of public assets. Only the building of a mass-based and democratic working class political party can provide the vast majority of working masses and angry youths with a political way out of the crisis of capitalism in Nigeria. With public ownership of key sectors of the economy linked with a socialist plan, Nigeria’s resources are more than enough to provide free and functional education at all levels.
As anger boils among young people and students, most of whom would be forced out of school as a result of fee hike, there is the urgent necessity to begin to build a mass-based struggle that can defeat education attacks and that can link demands for free education with the necessity for socialist change. The takeover of the leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) by pro-capitalist government agents has been a key obstacle, in the last 10 years, to students struggle against education attacks. There is the urgent need to rebuild the Students’ Unions and make them real democratic and fighting organs of students through which a new mass-based and fighting national students’ platform can emerge.
The DSM calls on students of LASU to resist this fee hike with boycott, protest and demonstration. We urge staff unions and the trade unions to give support and solidarity to the struggle. Young people and students must resist the glaring insincerity of a ruling class which bails out banks while imposing ever higher school fees on students and taxes on poor people. Even though the fee hike is planned to kick off next session, the plans and activities to resist it must begin right from now. Below is a leaflet issued by the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) to sensitize the students’ populace and other members of the university community on the need to struggle against the outrageous fee increment.
Fee Increment? No Way!
Greatest LASUites! Fee Hike is Anti-POOR
Prepare to Resist with Lecture Boycott and Sustained Mass Action
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) condemns the announcement of increment in the school fees of Lagos State University (LASU) by the Lagos State Government. This announcement was contained in a document titled “Government’s view on the report of the visitation panel to Lagos State University” released in September, 2011.
The document read thus “in view of the enormous financial commitment required to run a University vis-Å•-vis other competing demands in the public sector, Government accepts the recommendation to increase tuition feesâ€¦Government directs that the new tuition fees shall not be applied retroactively as current students are exempted from the increase. The new tuition fees will take effect from 2011/2012 academic session”.
The fee increment will have students of Arts/Education, Social and Management Sciences, Law, Communication/Transport, Science, Engineering and Medicine pay N193,750, N223,750, N248,750, N238,750, N258,750, N298,750 and N348,750 respectively as against the present fees which ranges from N25,000 to N62,500. This represents a 725% increase! The new fees include illegal fees like N15, 000 for Teaching Practice/Field Trip, N50, 000 for Moot Court Fee for Law students, N2,500 for General Studies, N10,000 for Caution Fee, N20,000 for Acceptance Fee, N10,000 for registration fee amongst many other obnoxious fees.
It is ironical that even though the same visitation panel recommended “increase in the Budgetary Allocation to the University using the UNESCO benchmark of a minimum of 25% of Annual Budget of the State to be expended on education”, the Lagos State ACN government is only quick to implement the one that suits it best.
PRICING EDUCATION OUT OF THE REACH OF THE POOR
The fee hike is another attempt by the Lagos State Government to commercialize education out of the reach of children of the poor and the working masses. It is indeed saddening to note this is coming from a major opposition party, the Action Congress of Nigeria which lays claim to the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s philosophy of free education.
Presently Lagos State University is characterized with overcrowded classrooms, inadequate lecture halls, water-logged environment (as a result of poor drainage system), ill-equipped libraries and laboratories, inadequate teaching and non-teaching staff, lack of transportation facilities, poor sport facilities, poor ICT services among others.
However for students of Lagos State University, this new anti-student policy is not new at all as it has always been the case with every second term of all ACN Governors that have ruled the State recently. In 2004, the immediate past Governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu hiked the school fees from N250 to a minimum of N25,000 along with the appointment of a new Vice Chancellor in the person of Prof. Lateef Hussein. Despite this there was no improvement in infrastructure as the University Management mismanaged both subventions and Internally Generated Revenue of the institution.
Similarly this new increment is coming on the heels of the re-election of Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola and the appointment of Prof. John Obafunwa as the new Vice Chancellor. Students must not be fooled by Government propaganda which gives the impression that paying high fees is the solution to the infrastructural deficit in LASU.
Rather the only solution to the deficit in quality and infrastructure in the University is for the state government to fund education adequately and democratize the running of schools through the involvement of elected representatives of students and staff unions in all decision making organs. This is the only way to ensure that resources allocated to schools are judiciously used to cater for the infrastructural improvement of the institutions.
WE CAN WIN IF WE FIGHT!
This fee increment is coming in a country characterized by low per capital income with over 80% of the population living below the poverty line. If this anti-student fee is successfully implemented, thousands of students will be forced to drop out of school while the academic ambitions of others will be jeopardized. This will make tertiary education to become the exclusive preserve of children of the rich and the highest bidders. It is an obvious fact that most students of Lagos State University are from low-income or lower class family as rich politicians like Governor Fashola and his cohorts do not even enroll their children in the university.
This struggle is therefore a struggle for the present and future generations. This is why the ERC call on the Students’ Union of Lagos State University (LASU) to resist this increment with mass actions and lecture boycott. Only a mass-based programme can force the state government to rescind her decision. We also appeal to staff unions to equally condemn the fee increment and give support to students’ resistance.
Most importantly we call on the generality of students not to allow the government to divide us along stalelites and freshers. Even though the fee hike will affect mainly the fresh students, we all must see it as an attack on everyone’s right to quality education and unite to struggle collectively for the reversal of the fees.
The Students’ Union must call an immediate CONGRESS of all students to discuss how to fight back. With congresses backed up with regular sensitization activities, it will be possible to unite all students around a program to fight for reversal of the fees and for genuine government commitment to education funding and improvement in the infrastructures of LASU. The struggle against fee increment can only be waged successfully if linked with the demand for adequate funding of education and the democratic running of schools to ensure resources are judiciously used to cater for genuine needs.
FOR A STATE-WIDE LECTURE BOYCOTT AND MASS ACTION
However the fee hike introduced in LASU appears as an initial step to test the mood of students in the state. Sooner than later, more outrageous fee hike will be introduced in other tertiary institutions owned by Lagos State. Only a sustained mass action of students of all the state-owned tertiary institutions in Lagos State directed at the Lagos State government can halt the fee hike and force the government to concede to the demands for adequate funding of the state-owned tertiary institutions. This requires the Students’ Unions and students of all other state-owned tertiary institutions uniting together under a programme of joint and collective struggle. Such a programme will include series of one-day lecture boycotts, mass protests and demonstration planned, coordinated and executed together.
Also, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) should commence the mobilization of Nigerian students in a national campaign for adequate funding of education and democratic management of schools. This movement is urgently needed to roll back the wave of fee hike, education commercialization and other neo-liberal attacks on education by the Federal and all state governments in Nigeria.
1. No to fee increment in Lagos State University.
2. Increase in the budgetary allocation to Lagos State University up to UNESCO recommended 26%.
3. Massive investment in infrastructural development to cater for the provision of auditoria, laboratories, libraries, teaching facilities etc.
4. Development of Lagos State University, Ojo Campus into a residential campus with the provision of affordable and comfortable hostels.
5. Democratic running of the university with elected representatives of education workers and students in all the decision making bodies.
JOIN THE ERC
If you are dissatisfied with fee increment and other neo-liberal and anti-poor policies of the Lagos State government and you want to fight back, the organization to join is the Education Rights Campaign (ERC). In joining the ERC, you will be meeting other committed student activists dedicated to the struggle for provision of free and functional education and the campaign to build an alternative students platform that can defend students interest. You can also assist our work by donating generously to the campaign. Tel: 08088902609, 08055720328, 07033697259.