ERC CALLS FOR REVERSAL OF HIKED FEES AT NOUN AND SCRAPPING OF HOSTEL REFUSAL FEE AT THE POLYTECHNIC, IBADAN
* Pledges Solidarity to students protesting fee hike and education commercialization
* Demands Improved funding of public education at all levels
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) condemn in strong terms the recently released publication by the management of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) stating an increment in the school fees for undergraduate and postgraduate students offering different programs from all the 36 study centers cutting across all states of the federation including the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
According to the new schedule of fees, the total fee payable by new undergraduate student is now N55, 000 as against the initial N36, 000, excluding courses and exam registration. Exam registration is now N1, 500 from an initial amount of N1, 000. Likewise, project fee for undergraduates rose to the tune of N25, 000 while that of the postgraduate students was hiked from N35, 000 to N61, 000. This is nothing other than scandalous and outrageous, and should be vehemently rejected by well-meaning Nigerians. We hereby join NOUN students to demand immediate reversal of the hiked fees and proper funding and democratic management of the institution and study centres.
Similarly at The Polytechnic Ibadan, the so-called hostel refusal fee has been increased from N5000 to N15, 000 – something which has led to a students’ protest on Monday 9 January 2023. Unfortunately, the only response the authorities of the Polytechnic counted worthy was to suspend the Students Union and to postpone examinations claiming the protest was politically motivated.
As far as we are concerned, the introduction of hostel refusal fee in the first instance is ridiculous and exploitative let alone the increase. The Polytechnic Ibadan, wants to charge students for refusing to stay in the institutions hostels which are inadequate and in poor and decrepit conditions. This is unacceptable! Reversing the charge to N5000 is not enough! We hereby demand the total scrapping of the Hostel Refusal Fee alongside other absurd fees like Acceptance fee etc.
As far as we are concerned, the ERC supports the struggles of NOUN and The Polytechnic Ibadan students who are protesting commercialization of education. In the same vein, we support the struggle of all Nigerian students who are opposed to underfunding and commercialization of public education as well as assault on the democratic rights of students and staff. Protest is a fundamental and inalienable human right guaranteed under the 1999 Constitution (As Amended). To this extent, we condemned the suspension of The Polytechnic Ibadan Students Union. While the Students Union suspension was lifted on Monday, the first semester examination remained postponed. We warn the Polytechnic management to not to repeat any attempt to ban the Students Union and to refrain from victimizing any student and their leaders for their roles in the protest.
Considering the harsh economic situation under the President Buhari-led All Progressive Congress (APC) anti-poor government, these increments in fees across campuses will only add to the burden of economic woes that parents and guardians, who are under constant pressures to make ends meet to educate their wards due to the failure of the government to properly fund the education sector, face. It would also negatively affect self-sponsored students who hustle different jobs in order to pay their way through school.
The act of constant and indiscriminate increment of fees by management of public tertiary institutions in Nigeria is rooted in the anti-poor policy of underfunding of public education by successive capitalist government who prefer to loot the enormous wealth of Nigeria instead of using it to fund public education, health and other beneficial social services. In the midst of all these, the 2023 budget is offering only a paltry 8% of the budget as allocation to education. This has reinforced rumours that more fees hikes are likely in the first quarter of this year as institutions scramble to push the burden on students.
In this situation, it is vital that students begin to prepare for a mass nationwide resistance. To this end, we urge on the leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) to convene a national congress of students for a democratic discussion of this issue as well as a drawing up of plans to fight back. Likewise, we call on the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), other staff unions, Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) to, as a first step, publicly condemn the fee hikes and commercialization of public education. Furthermore, the labour movement needs to take the issue of fee hike as a labour issue that affects the working class and be prepared to mobilize for actions including strikes and protests to force government to fund public education adequately.
Deputy National Coordinator
Adaramoye Michael Lenin
Acting National Mobilisation Officer