A group campaigning for proper funding of education, the Education Rights Campaign (ERC), has condemned increment of fees at the Ambrose Alli University (AAU), Ekpoma, Edo State, by the State Government. The hiked fee affects mainly fresh students of the University for the new 2015/2016 academic session.
The ERC in a statement on Monday signed by the National Coordinator, Comrade Hassan Taiwo Soweto, and Secretary, Ogundele Michael, the fee as anti-poor and demanded its immediate and unconditional reversal. “Coming from a state governed by the All Progressive Congress (APC) which promises change, this attempt to price education out of the reach of children of the poor is unacceptable. The ERC demands immediate and unconditional reversal of the hiked fees. We also call for improved funding and democratic management of the institution,” they protested.
According to a bulletin posted on the University’s website (www.aauekpoma.edu.ng), students admitted into Art, Social Sciences and Fine and Applied Arts are expected to pay N97, 750. Their counterparts in economics, public administration, business administration and banking and finance will pay N111, 500. Also students admitted into natural sciences, agriculture, education and physiology are expected to pay N113, 500. Students offered admission to study engineering; microbiology, computer science, architecture and building are expected to pay N124, 000. Students admitted into the Institute of Education are expected to pay N111, 500. Students offered medical laboratory sciences, anatomy, nursing; law and accounting are expected to pay N129, 000. Finally, Students offered medicine are expected to pay N161, 500.
ERC noted that all the above mentioned are aside other sundry charges like concessional fee of N10, 000, AAU Lapel/File of N800.00, matriculation gown fee of N2, 000 and acceptance fee which varies depending on the course of study. For instance, the acceptance fee of Medical Students (Medicine and Surgery) is N75, 000 while others pay N60, 000.
Arguing further, the ERC insisted that “charging higher fees is not the solution to the crisis of infrastructure deficit in the education sector. The only panacea to the deficit in quality and infrastructure in the University is for the government to fully fund education adequately and democratize the running of schools through the involvement of elected representatives of students and staff unions in all decision making organs. This is the only way to ensure that resources allocated to schools are judiciously used to cater for the infrastructural improvement of the institutions”.
Pointing to the example of the Lagos State University (LASU) where fees were as high as N350, 000 about a year ago before mass protests forced the state government to reverse it, the ERC argued that academic institutions where fees are increased are liable to experience sharp decline in enrollment as well as rise in dropout rate.
“The cumulative consequence is a further rise in the number of secondary school leavers who are unable to proceed to the next level. This will make tertiary education to become the exclusive preserve of children of the rich and the highest bidders. Nigeria is a country characterized by low per capital income with about 70% of the population living below the poverty line. As a result, a majority of students in Ambrose Alli University (AAU), Ekpoma are from low-income family. According to our findings, many of the prospective students have already abandoned their admission because of their inability to afford the hiked fee,” ERC said.