Why Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, should respond to UNN students
Vanguard Nigeria recently reported that students of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka are calling on the newly appointed minister of education, Mallam Adamu Adamu to help them address the N75,000 laptop fee authorities of the institution have imposed on them. Apparently, all UNN students have to pay the earlier stated sum to enable them own a laptop, even if they already have one. Students have condemned the mandatory policy on grounds of affordability.
A UNN student who spoke with Vanguard complained that his parents only receive a minimum wage of N18,000 monthly, which does not add up to half the money requested by the school.
Chimezie Ibe Onuoha, a student of UNN, told Ventures Africa that the idea of providing laptops for all students seems like a good idea but the price should be reduced to suit students budgets. “The system is cheap but could be cheaper if the UNN authorities should approach Lenovo, HP, Dell or Toshiba for special discounts as this is a volume business.”
History shows that Nigerian government officials rarely listen and intervene in these matters. In October 2015, the Federation of Ekiti State Students Union (FESSU) took to the streets to protest hike in fees in institutions across the state. They blamed bad government policies in the education sector for the indiscriminate increase in student fees. FESSU president, Peter Obayemi who spoke to the media at the time, said one of the major reasons for the protest was the compulsory N50,000 imposed on newly admitted students of the College of Health Science and Technology, Ijero Ekiti. A policy which he claimed was outrageous. “The Ijero College of Health Science and Technology is the only school in Nigeria paying such an outrageous acceptance fee of N50,000 that is non-refundable and this does not guarantee their admission”, he said.
Students in public/federal institutions are not the only victims of school fees hike in Nigeria, private institutions are also victims. For instance, in February 2015, medical students of the Afe Babalola University raised alarm over a reported increase in fees from N1.7 million to N2.6 million. The students cited that the school authorities were being insensitive to the financial plight of their parents and exploiting them.
Speaking out against indiscriminate hike in fees and even unnecessary monetary policies in educational institutions is critical. However, the conversation needs to evolve past students and social media. Transferring and instituting mandatory costs to students is not the way forward for federal universities in Nigeria. While some have questioned that Adamu’s lack of experience in the educational sector is an impediment to his ability to transform Nigeria’s education system- a seemingly small issue such as this mandatory laptop fee is the exact type of issue he needs to build policy direction around; an awareness that federal educational institutions in Nigeria need to make good education their foremost priority, without unnecessarily increasing the costs of attendance and study related charges for students.
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