University Workers and Students Must Struggle to Stop It
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) condemns the planned rationalization of academic programmes at Lagos State University (LASU). The university Governing Council at its 100th meeting with the backing of the Lagos Government resolved to embark on rationalization of courses. This will lead to the scrapping of departments and sacking of some lecturers and non-teaching staff.
It is on record that the ERC warned that government's cuts in the funding of the University and the commercialization of the institution through the astronomical increment in fees was aimed at drastically reducing the number of students and workers (lecturers and non-teaching staff) as a step at rendering the university prostrate and subsequently selling it at a give-away price.
This plan was kick started with the commercialization of LASU wherein students who gained admission into LASU in the 2011/2012 academic session were forced to pay between N193, 750 and N348, 750. The brutal consequence of this was that only 1,951 students (representing 39.8%) of over 4,903 students offered admission for the 2011/2012 academic session only enrolled in the university. This goes to confirm that the ACN-led government like the PDP, ANPP, APC, APGA etc., has an agenda to destroy public education. Besides, this is a clear testimony of the failure of the policy of commercialization in the education sector.
The ERC warned in 2011 when fees were increased that this was going to have dire implication for staff and the University in its entirety since some departments would have to be scrapped because few students would be admitted. It explains why the ERC was correct when it proposed that the lecturers through ASUU and the non-academic staff should actively and publicly support LASU students when they were fighting the fee hike, but this was ignored. Regrettably, the Student Union leaders equally sold out in the course of the struggle thus abandoning students to their fate.
It is the consequence of the failure to seriously challenge the criminal fee hike policy of the Fashola administration of Lagos state that is now manifesting in the slow destruction of the Lagos State University and public tertiary education in Lagos State today. If this rationalization of courses is allowed to sail through, it is lecturers and non-academic staffs that will be hardest hit as several jobs will be immediately lost. Also it would in the short and long-term lead to further shutting the door of university education to thousands of aspiring undergraduates who want to pursue academic careers in the arts, socials sciences and other courses/departments that the governing council has penciled down for rationalisation. The negative impact of this on staff morale and university education in Lagos State will be deep and long-drawn.
The ERC therefore calls on staff unions and students of LASU to be prepared to challenge this new anti-poor and anti-growth education policy of the LASU management at the instance of the state government. We believe that it is only the solidarity of different sections of the working class and students in an organized and sustainable manner that can struggle to win concessions and also defeat anti-poor education policies.
The ERC demands the reversal of the fees hike as a step towards scrapping of fees and cancellation of the planned rationalisation policy. We also demand adequate investment in LASU and education in its entirety as a means of educating all those that need it.
Lagos State Coordinator
Education Rights Campaign (ERC)