FROM RIGHT TO PRIVILEGE: THE STORY OF EDUCATION IN NIGERIA
“Next in importance to freedom and justice is popular education, without which neither freedom nor justice can be permanently maintained.” – James A. Garfield
“The foundation of every state is the education of its youth.” – Diogenes Laertius
“Education is a human right with immense power to transform. On its foundation rest the cornerstones of freedom, democracy and sustainable human development.” – Kofi Annan
The story of education in Nigeria is a story that when told to the youths of today, makes the heart bleed. We hear stories of our fathers and mothers being paid to go to school. We are told stories of them getting the best of treatments in their schools and being treated with the highest level of respect in the society. We listen to these stories in a state of utter disbelief, because, compared to what we have today, our educational system has fallen far below expectations.
The same generation of people that enjoyed free education have decided that the generation of youths after them must be made to pay heavily for what they got free of charge. It is no longer news that Oronsaye’s recommendation to the Federal government is that tuition fees be re-introduced in Federal universities, Polytechnics, and colleges of education. He recommended that each student should be made to pay between N450,000 and N550,000 naira per session. This is what can be called insensitivity on the part of the people who are saddled with the responsibility of grooming today’s youths.
Unfortunately, the elected student leaders at the level of NANS have refused to voice out against this injustice and to stop this evil policy from being implemented. The silence of NANS thus far is deafening. Apart from organizations like ERC, CDHR, SYL,CLAPS e.t.c that have spoken out, others have kept quiet.
The increment in the tuition fees being paid by UNIJOS students may be a sign of things to come. The announcement was met with a protest by UNIJOS students. All those who care about Nigeria’s educational system must raise their voices against yet another anti-masses policy of this inconsiderate government.
This must be seen as yet another attack on the masses by the ruling class. If Oronsaye’s recommendation is accepted, our universities will witness a large number of drop outs and the streets will be flooded with uneducated youths. And in an age where Ph.D holders now drive trucks, i wonder what kind of job an uneducated youth will be forced to do.
All students must come together and use the UNIJOS protest as a point of contact to demand that:
i) the Oronsaye recommendation be thrown out.
ii) education should be remain free.
In the event that the FG fails to listen to the voice of the students, student leaders across the country must come together and strategize on ways to ensure the government respects the right of everyone to quality and affordable education.
Ogunjimi James Taiwo