Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM


Mass Actions Needed to Defeat Anti-Student Policies

Ever since the pronouncement of the student’s loan was made there have been heightened and sporadic attacks on public education through hike in tuition fees, spreading from one tertiary institution to another like a wide fire in harmattan. Sadly, many students continue to think that the government’s loan policy will help address the crisis of soaring cost of education. Unfortunately, this would not be the case in the long turn.  Instead, the implementation the Tinubu’s student loan policy will likely serve as a catalyst for more crises in the education sector. This is why the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) is calling on students’ unions to adopt a programme of struggle to fight for the reversal of all hiked fees  linked to demanding proper funding of public education.

By Micheal Lenin, ERC National Mobilisation Officer

In many tertiary institutions, students and education workers are now worse off than they were a year ago. Within the last few months, school fees have been astronomically increased in several tertiary institutions, while attacks on democratic rights of students and workers have not ceased. Also, the living and learning conditions of students continue to rapidly decline; necessary facilities for living and learning are either absent or in terrible condition. Clearly, the government is uninterested in uplifting public education.

Budgetary allocation to public education has not increased, it is still a continuation of paltry allocation to public education that is obtainable over the years. This is why administrators of public tertiary institutions and the government milk pockets of students in order to get alternative funding for the institutions. However, another reality is that even the limited allocations to schools from the governments are routinely mismanaged by the school authorities.  So, schools force students to pay exorbitant amount as school fees. This is already the sad reality for many students, in fact, many have had to forfeit their academic career just because they couldn’t afford the exorbitant fees being forced on them. The fact that the finances of schools are often mismanaged or embezzled explains why the ERC does not only call for adequate funding of public education but also for democratic management and running of schools involving elected representatives of staff and students in order to make possible the judicious use of resources.


“Additionally, this scheme is nothing but a backdoor means to increase the fees payable in schools and make it hard for children of the poor masses to have access to higher education. Already, the federal government has declared its intention to introduce tuition fees across tertiary institutions. This means that the loan scheme is only a camouflage to increase fees paid by students and deprive children of the poor access to education.” These were our words in a public statement issued by the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) when the student’s loan bill was eventually signed into law. Reality has validated our position to be true. Also true is the fact that the student’s loan would end up creating myriads of crises for the education sector.

Therefore, education has been already hit by the creeping commercialization in the sector, something which students’ loan scheme is meant to legitimize. Notably, the scheme is intended to  be granted to students only for the payment of tuition fees which the government is planning to introduce. Officially, students in public tertiary institutions are not paying for tuition. So, formal introduction of tuition fees will mean much higher fee increments for most tertiary institutions in the midst of hardship biting harder on the citizenry. This is asides the exorbitant fees that are already being paid in all schools, which will not be covered by the loan .In other words, the Federal Government is practically providing loans for the increments they are already embarking on, as a means to deceive students and parents to accept such increments.


In the Education Rights Campaign (ERC), we strongly believe the forces of students, education workers and the masses are still potent enough to win struggles and defeat the anti-poor policies of the government; what has been missing over the years, especially in the students’ movement, is vibrant and radical leadership that can lead struggles of students to success. This problem of leadership also means that there is lack of democracy in the running of the student’s movement. For far too long, the students movement has been left in the hands of careerists and individuals who are not interested in genuinely resisting attacks on public education. Students, education activists and left groups must be prepared to campaign for democratic and vibrant leadership. Also, the struggles ahead require that students and activists must become leaders of their struggles through democratic discussions.

We call on Students, ASUU, NASU, COESSU, ASUP, other education unions and Nigerian students to unite and resist these attacks on public education by the Tinubu administration. We also call on the NLC and TUC to work with education workers’ unions at all levels and students in order to organise a mass resistance against the loan scheme and commercialisation of public higher education. We also urge the NLC to withdraw its membership of the students’ loan board right now as this violates the age-long struggle of the labour movement for improved funding of public education.

Rather than put the cart before the horse, we demand that the Federal government provide gainful employment for teeming Nigerian youths and fund public education effectively, to the point that there will be no need for tuition or supplementary fees let alone the need for loans. Funds meant to build such Education Bank should be directed to revitalize university education by providing all the infrastructures and facilities needed to make education in Nigeria of the best quality. Asides from that, we call on working people and youth to demand that the country’s wealth should be used to fund social services that can improve the quality of social life of all citizens rather than using this wealth to pay jumbo salaries for politicians while awarding excessively inflated budgets to their cronies. However, to achieve this, working people and youth have to fight for a working people government on a socialist program including nationalization of the commanding heights of the economy such that the huge material resources and collective wealth of the country can be amassed for the benefit of the vast majority.

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