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Socialist Democracy March 2004

 

RISE NOW TO FIGHT GROWING EDUCATION COMMERCIALISATION

Right from its inception, Obasanjo's regime has never hidden its grand design to make education an exclusive preserve for the sons and daughters of the very rich. While UNESCO prescribes at least 26% of the annual national budget to education, Obasanjo government only allocated 7.0% in year 2000; 5.9% in 2002 and 1.83% in 2003.

The progressive decline in the budgetary allocation means that parents will have to augment the shortfall while those that cannot afford it will have no right to qualitative education. This is in line with the deregulation, privatisation and commercialisation policy of the regime.

In a circular No DE/HE/34/11/257 signed by the Education Minister, Professor Fabian Osuji, students of tertiary institutions are to pay a minimum of N10,000 per bed space against N90 it used to be. This is apart from numerous fees under different guises.

While parents who are lucky to still keep their jobs are finding it very difficult to survive as a result of various anti-poor policies of the regime, which make their salaries worthless, several parents have been retrenched without their benefits paid. Already, the federal government, which is the highest employer of labour, has threatened to down size by 40%. It is the same condition in the private sector. Consequently, students that are lucky to graduate have no future of getting employed.

NANS is therefore commended on the protest organised against this obnoxious increase in University of Nigeria, Nsukka where the policy is to be implemented. This protest, with the threat of more in other campuses, has forced the government to suspend the implementation temporarily.

However, to stop this government from enforcing this crude policy on students, NANS needs a well-coordinated, organised, protracted mass struggle. It needs to seek the support of trade unions in higher institutions such as ASUU, ASUP, COEASU, SSANU, NASU, SSATHURAI, NUT, etc. Most of these workers are parents who are having one or two demands yet to be implemented by this government. This can make all unions in the higher institutions have a joint demand to wrestle education from total collapse.

However, if this organised struggle forces the government to retreat, it will only be a temporary one. This present government has no capacity to implement a pro-people policy. What is needed is an alternative platform where workers, students, unemployed, market women, artisan, etc, will organise to wrestle power from the present ruling class where pro-peoples policies will be implemented.

 

 

Socialist Democracy March 2004