Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM)

For struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

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Socialist Democracy April - May 2003 | Index

OUR FIGHT FOR FREE AND GOOD QUALITY EDUCATION

 

Today, governments at federal and state level which cannot pay our parents N5,500 poverty wage promptly and who is owing pensioners backlog of arrears want us to pay school fees of N30,000 plus. In UNILAG, from N549 before, a student is expected to pay N24,000; in OAU, Ile-Ife, from N590, students are expected to pay N9,450, in UNAAB, from N3,000 now to N23,000, in Oceanography, from N4,500 to N14,000; amongst others like Ibadan Poly, MAPOLY, UI, DELSU, UNIBEN, TASCE, SPED, etc. All these monies are aside other departmental, faculty and other unreceipted charges on campuses, not to talk of feeding, accommodation, books and handouts and transport. Taking feeding as an example, a student can be said to at least manage N50 food per meal, then per day is N150, per month is N4,500, per year is N54,000, just for a feeding of a child not to talk of parents with three or four children in higher institutions.

We are outraged that thousands will drop out of schools due to inability to pay the unnecessary outrageous fees being charged on campuses. The NANS Zone D secretariat has so far been coordinating the campaign against fees through intervention on campuses affected with leaflets, posters, stickers, rallies, symposia, picketing, etc and ultimately to link up with other students unions who are not presently affected in solidarity.

The ongoing Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU) strike has a link with our struggle because one of ASUU's main demands is government better funding of the education sector to the tune of UNESCO's recommended 26% of annual budgetary allocation; hence our unalloyed support for the ongoing ASUU's struggle.

The Obasanjo regime has been treating the education sector. Government policies on education in Nigeria are reflecting conspicuously an unholy alliance and conspiracy with IMF/World Bank blue print of education commercialisation and privatisation designed to further ruin our educational sector.

This is better situated in the context of gross under-funding of the sector by the present political gladiators in Nigeria (AD, ANPP and PDP). Even during the dark era of Abacha military junta, the sector was still allocated 11% while Abubakar cabal even allocated 12%. Ironically, in our so-called democratic setting, education allocation has declined: year 2000 (8.36%), year 2001 (7.0%), year 2002 (5.9%) and to worsen it, 2003 (1.83%), the worst in the history of Nigeria.

It is important to say that another bane of the sector is corruption, misplacement of priority, embezzlement and misappropriation. Most authorities even collect the meagre resources and squander it on frivolities and embezzle it with impunity.

The battle ahead needs more vigour commitment, co-ordination and sincerity of purpose from the students' unions and the zonal leadership. More peaceful picketing of banks like that of March 13th, 2003 to further popularise our struggle, to tell the banking sector whom authorities are using now to collect these extortionate fees from all the part of the country to desist from such collaboration to send over 80% of Nigerian students out of schools. More posters, leaflets, stickers, press awareness, rallies, symposia, barricades timely interventions must be organised.

Equally, joint action of NANS, students unions, NUT, NLC, ASUU, ASUP, COEASU, SSANU, NASU, etc becomes important and timely, to go out to the streets and other strategic locations and organise more co-ordinated joint effort to save education. We must equally demand democratic management of educational institutions with elected representatives of staff and students on all decision-making bodies and the right to independent unions for both staff and students.

To us, free and qualitative education is practicable in Nigeria today, because Nigeria is fabulously rich with about $60 million dollar per day from the sale of crude oil alone, aside other potential resources. It must be reiterated here once again that the only alternative to the endemic and rotten capitalist system, the alternative to mass poverty, war, oppression, wretchedness, unemployment, injustice, exploitation, corruption and embezzlement, etc is working masses democratic socialist order, that we lead to a free and decent society for all.

 

 

 

Socialist Democracy April - May 2003 | Index