Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), has warned that if the federal government does not stop the arbitrary increase in school fees by universities, 40 to 50% of students will drop out in the next two to three years.
Prof Osodeke issued the warning while speaking on Channels TV Sunday night about the current state of education in Nigeria.
The union leader, who accused universities of arbitrarily raising school fees, argued that the government’s education policies should instead be aimed at attracting more students to school.
Today, universities are arbitrarily increasing school fees. Is that correct in an environment today where the minimum wage is N30,000 per month when you have to pay rent, pay heavily for transportation and you are enforcing it on the students?
If nothing is done about these heavy fees being introduced by schools all over the country, in the next two or three years, more than 40 to 50 per cent of these children who are in school today will drop out, he said.
Prof Osodeke also warned that the country would be in trouble when its large youthful population are out of school.
When they drop out, they will become a big feed for recruitment for those who want this country to be ungovernable.
This is what we are saying, create the environment we have in the 60s and 70s. When I was a student, the government was paying me for being a student. Let’s have an environment where the children of the poor can have access to education.
School fees of N300,000, how can the children of someone who earns N50,000 a month be able to pay such a fee?
He urged the government to increase the budgetary allocation for education to at least 15% of the total budget amount.
He bemoaned that the 3.8 percent allocated to education in the previous budget was insufficient, claiming that an increase in budget allocation to education would relieve parents of the burden of paying high fees for their children.
The union leader slammed the government’s student loan policy, claiming there was no evidence that it would work.
Prof Osodeke said:
When you are talking about student loans, you have to be comprehensive. There is nothing to show that it would work.
There is a need for a review. Check what happened in the past and see how we can move forward. But for us, our idea is that instead of calling it a loan, let us call it a grant.
If you look at the conditions, 90 per cent of the students will not have access to that loan. The condition that you must have parents who earn less than N500,000 per annum [is harsh]. How many people earn less than N500,000 per annum?