School fees hike: FG should intervene

As a civil servant earns a meager monthly wage of N30,000, they are burdened with the responsibility of covering electricity bills, water bills, house rent, school fees, and groceries. This grim reality is faced by the average Nigerian citizen. Amidst the economic challenges and hardships endured by Nigerians, federal tertiary institutions have raised tuition fees, leaving the children of the poor questioning the government’s commitment to prioritise education.

The current situation produces graduates year after year, uncertain about their future. The job market struggles to accommodate the overwhelming number of graduates, leaving many to seek blue-collar jobs, become entrepreneurs, or acquire additional skills. Subjecting students and their parents/sponsors to sudden tuition fee hikes at this point seems harsh and burdensome.

The recent hike in tuition fees across federal universities has sparked widespread concerns, debates, and protests among students, parents, school management, lecturers, and other stakeholders in the education sector. The University of Lagos, Bayero University Kano, University of Abuja, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, University of Maiduguri, and Usmanu Dan Fodio University, among others, have raised their fees by over 200%. From N28,000 to N50,000, students now pay as high as N108,000 to N252,000. Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, where I currently attend, is yet to implement a fee increase, but speculations are that it will in the next session, with varying fees across departments.

The federal government maintains that tertiary education in Nigeria remains free and accessible to all citizens, with a loan scheme in place for students from struggling backgrounds. However, immediate government intervention is essential to address this increase. The economic situation makes it likely that children from poor families will drop out due to the higher fees, leading to increased illiteracy, social vices, crimes, and suicidal tendencies among the youth.

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) justifies the fee hike by stating that universities are poorly funded, leading to operational deficiencies. Transferring the burden to students is believed to put an end to ASUU’s frequent strikes and conflicts with the government. While I am apprehensive about the fee hike, I acknowledge ASUU’s relentless efforts to pressure the government for better funding of the education sector.

The resolution lies in the hands of the government, who should engage in constructive discussions with administrative bodies of these institutions to determine a fair and reasonable amount for students to pay as school fees. These talks must consider the current hardships faced by Nigerians. Agreements should be reached to improve infrastructure and increase funding for educational institutions nationwide. Additionally, student loans should be made accessible and readily available without restrictions, ensuring that education remains affordable and accessible to all, regardless of their socio-economic background. Education is a critical sector that no government should overlook, as the collapse of the education system would severely hinder the overall growth and development of the country.

Abdulrahman Ozichu Fauziah,

Ahmadu Bello University,
Zaria, Kaduna state.