Kehinde, Babatunde Joseph
Section 18 (1) of the Nigerian constitution explicitly states that the government must direct its policies towards ensuring equal and adequate educational opportunities at all levels. However, despite this constitutional provision, recent developments in the Tinubu administration have raised concerns about the accessibility and quality of education for students, parents, and educators.
Education is undeniably the cornerstone of a thriving society, fostering knowledge, critical thinking, and empathy among its citizens. It plays a pivotal role in shaping the character and intellect of individuals, equipping them with the necessary skills and knowledge to contribute positively to society and break free from the cycle of poverty.
Regrettably, the issue of steadily increasing school fees is now a pressing threat to the realization of equal educational opportunities. The Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Education, recently implemented a concerning policy, raising the school fees for new students into Federal Government Colleges, also known as Federal Unity Colleges, to ₦100,000. The previous fee of N45,000 has now been doubled, making it increasingly difficult for many families to afford quality education for their children.
The implications of such a fee hike are far-reaching and require immediate attention. As education becomes increasingly expensive, it creates a daunting barrier for students from low and middle-income backgrounds who aspire to attend these Federal Unity Colleges. This situation directly contradicts the constitutional mandate of providing equal and adequate educational opportunities for all.
The Strain on Higher Education
The challenges posed by escalating school fees extend beyond secondary education to higher education institutions as well. Some federal universities, such as the University of Benin and the University of Lagos, have reportedly increased their tuition fees by 200%, making life unbearable for students. This increase occurs without commensurate improvements in learning environments or upgraded learning systems, further exacerbating the difficulties faced by students.
The burdensome and relentless imposition of fees on students has reached a breaking point. It is time for all stakeholders, including students, trade unions, student bodies, and parents, to unite and raise our voices against this injustice. The future of our nation depends on the education of our youth, and it is imperative that we take a stand now. “Enough is Enough” – let us rally together to ensure that the dreams of our students are not stifled by financial constraints. It is time to allow the poor to breathe freely and foster an environment that promotes equitable access to education for all.
Kehinde, Babatunde Joseph.