By Adesina Wahab
it’s over a month since the Federal Government-owned institutions increased the fees payable by students beginning from the current session and the follow-up denial by the government that the schools are still tuition-free and parents and students are still waiting for a reversal of the fee hike.
Rather than the schools reverting to the former fee regimes, they have come out with measures they say would help parents and students to cope and pay.
Checks by Vanguard showed that for parents whose wards attend Federal Government’s Unity colleges, after they got the notice by the Federal Ministry of Education that they would now pay N100,000 instead of the previous N45,000 as fees, nothing has been heard from the ministry regarding the issue.
One of such parents, Femi Michael, whose daughter attends one of the schools in Ogun State, parents are already sourcing for funds to meet the new demand.
“From the way things are going and the criminal silence by the Federal Ministry of Education, it is obvious that the new fee regime won’t be reversed by the government. So, by September when the new session begins, parents and guardians shoud just brace up or find alternatives for their wards,” he said.
Payment in instalments
The University of Lagos, UNILAG, where the fee payable by students was jerked up from N19,000 to N190,250, the management introduced payment in instalments by students and even advised them to seek sponsorship.
In a statement on the official social handles of the institution, the school said it took the decision in the face of the current economic situation in the country and urged current and new students to take note of the measures.
Among the measures are that students can now pay the fees in instalments, however, the second and final payment must be done before the end of the course registration for the second semester.
“The work study programme has been re-vitalised so students can get higher remuneration. Students interested in this should kindly visit the Dean of Students Affairs, DSA office. Students can now access scholarship opportunities, kindly visit DSA office for more information.
“Assistance for Indigent Students: This can be accessed in the DSA office, this is for indigent students.
“Triple A Project: Measures have been put in place for alumni and well-meaning Nigerians to “adopt-a-student” under the Triple A “Adopt an Akokite” project. The university has deployed the “Pay for Mentors Project”for smart students.
“Partnership with Lagos Bus Rapid Transport System to facilitate ease of transportation. “The Management has secured approval from Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) for additional BRT dedicated routes to convey passengers from Berger Bus Stop axis and Oshodi/Iyana Ipaja area of Lagos State respectively,” the management said.
In the same vein, many federal universities extended the deadline for registration and payment of fees.
At the Bayero University Kano, BUK, for example, the management extended the deadline due to what it called the need for parents and students to meet up in the face of current economic situation in the country.
The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Sagir Adamu, said normally, the institution closes registration two weeks after resumption, but decided to extend to one month.
He insisted that the increment by the institution was the least when compared to other institutions, noting that anything short of that would render the university incapacitated, with the quality and standard of education negatively affected.
“We are fully aware of the condition of our people, most people are not financially comfortable that is why it took us over six months to come up with a figure which is the minimum required to provide services to the student.
“We did not increase the registration fees to make money. We are trying our best to make life easier for our students by widening the scope to allow students attend classes before registration. We have also introduced welfare packages for our staff such as non- interest loan from Micro Finance Bank payable within six months. Food stuffs, shuttle buses, bicycle loans for junior staff payable within nine months.”
FG’s insistence on free tuition
However, the FG has continued to insist that its schools are still tuition-free despite hike in other charges.
According to a statement from the Presidency, endorsed by the then Special Adviser to the President on Special Duties, Communications and Strategy, Mr. Dele Alake, the FG has not introduced tuition fees in its schools, rather, the schools have only introduced discretionary charges in some areas.
Alake explained that some universities introduced discretionary charges for hostel accommodation, registration, laboratory and other charges which he said are not tuition fees.
“However, the fact remains and we have confirmed that these are discretionary charges by each university for hostel accommodation, registration, laboratory and other charges. They are not tuition fees. Authorities of these universities even made this fact clear enough in explaining the rationale behind these new fees. For avoidance of doubts, federal universities in Nigeria remain tuition-free.”
However, parents, under the aegis of the National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria, NAPTAN, are of the view that the government has subtly increased fees and should reversal the action.
According to them, with the economic situation in the country and the attendant high cost of living, adding school fee hike would like further pressure on them. Speaking in a chat with Vanguard, the Deputy National President of NAPTAN, Chief Adeolu Ogunbanjo, urged President Bola Tinubu to as a matter of urgency, put a stop to the tuition fee hike in public schools.
“The President should mandate the schools to revert back to the fees they charged. They should not snuff the life out of parents and their children. He should temper justice with mercy. The moment the government increases the fees payable in its schools, others will follow, the state governments and private school owners. He should just stop it,” he stated.