ERC Holds Symposium on Students’ Loan Policy and Fee Hike
As part of its activities to mobilize mass resistance against the onslaught on public education by the Tinubu and APC government, as made obvious by the recently signed Student Loan Act and the wave of fee hike across campuses, The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) held a hybrid public symposium on July 22. The ERC had previously on June 21 held a widely press conference through which it explicitly exposed students loan as a scam and its danger to public tertiary education.
By Sodiq Duro’orike
Participants at the symposium include students from various campuses in Nigeria and Socialist Students in the UK, as well as parents, lecturers, activists and others.
Among the speakers were Prof. Sowande Olusiji National Treasurer Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and Dr. Ayoola Akinwole, ASUU Chair of University of Ibadan. They commended the organization for providing a platform to discuss the ongoing attack on public education. They explained that the requirements for student loan scheme mean that the vast majority of students will not be qualified. By and large, it is clear with the policy that the government is planning to further reduce the funding of public tertiary education, which is already grossly inadequate, and opening the door for universities to charge high fees for tuition beyond the capacity of the vast majority of students from working class and the poor families. It is not ruled that the government to plan to sell off universities or scrapping some departments as a result of the drop in enrollment following the outrageous school fees. They reiterated the ASUU’s opposition to introduction of tuition and the union’s fight for adequate funding of education.
One of the speakers Samson Oladeru from University of Abuja informed how the hike in fees has triggered an increase in crime rates within and outside the university. The perpetrators are believed to be students who are in dire need to pay the astronomical school fees before their exams commence. However, in the university the students’ leaders who oppose the fee hike were rusticated summarily.
Joining from the international Comrade Pippa Evans from Socialist Students England and Wales, and Comrade Deji also from the UK, explained that students loan which has not worked in the UK and US does not have prospects of success in a neo-colonial country like Nigeria. Besides, marketisation of university education has proved to be a failure internationally as it reduces access and erodes quality. That despite Nigeria being the richest country in Africa and Britain being one of the richest countries in the world, neither can afford a decent and free education system shows that capitalism is a broken system, unable to offer a decent future for ordinary people.
The other speakers included Aduwo Ayodele a student activist from University Ibadan and Abbey Trotsky, Acting National Chair of the SPN.
HT Soweto, ERC National Coordinator, summed up the discussion.
Participants at the meeting agreed on the need for concerted resistance and a call for joint struggles of students and education workers unions to defeat the obnoxious policy. The Education Rights Campaign thus resolved to take its campaign against the Students Loan Act and increase in school fees, and for adequate funding of education and the democratic management of our institutions of higher learning into different campuses and communities across the country. Over N80,000 was raised as a struggle fund at the symposium to support the production of materials for the campaign. The ERC is also prepared to work with other groups to build a broad movement against attacks on public education.
Read more on the position of the ERC on students loan elsewhere on this website.