Thursday, 26 June 2014

TASUED: STUDENTS PROTEST EXCLUSION FROM EXAMINATION



All TASUED students must be allowed to write examinations

For adequate funding of public education and cancellation of outrageous fees

The students of Tai Solarin University of Education (TASUED), Ijagun Ijebu-Ode Ogun state, recently embarked on mass protest against the decision of the management to exclude over 2000 students, majority of whom are final year students, from writing the first semester examination, currently being conducted. The action of the school authorities was predicated upon the purported inability of the students to present receipts as evidence of payment of school fees to the bursary department.

TASUED, a state owned institution currently charges outrageous fees of N94, 000 for its returning students and N104, 000 for its fresh students. This is not an isolated case; killer fees are charged in virtually all the state owned institutions, including Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), where students pay as much as N170, 000! 
   
Curiously, many of the excluded students did pay their school fees to the designated commercial banks in Ijebu Ode, using their Automated Machine (ATM) cards, as directed. The accounts of the affected students were debited accordingly, but were not issued receipts for payment by the banks. The banks claimed they could not link up with the school’s portal, which the management had surreptitiously closed, to confirm the eligibility of the students. The students went to the bursary department to complain, but were turned back.

Frustrated by the danger of not being allowed into the examination halls, they mobilized themselves and proceeded to the Students’ Union Building (SUB), with view to getting the union leadership to intervene in their plights. Whilst the students were being addressed by the union president, an overzealous, trigger-happy campus security officer fired shot at the students, injuring many of them. Sensing a backlash from his cruel and unwarranted attack on defenseless students, the security officer ran into the campus security post. The angry students demanded he should be punished for his cruelty, but his superiors declined, and the school management looked the other way.

The students were still agitating that the man who fired the shot be punished, when the Vice Chancellor (VC), who all the while had refused all entreaties to address the students, invited a combined special force of police and soldiers, otherwise called OP Messa, to the campus. On their arrival, they started shooting sporadically, beating and brutalizing defenseless students. This led to riot by the students, and some of the institution’s properties were destroyed.

The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) totally condemns the school management’s highhandedness and its resort to brute force on defenseless students. The ERC rejects the attempt by the authorities and their cronies at the various banks to shortchange the students, due to the inefficiencies and corruption of the banks and the school.

The ERC calls on well meaning Nigerians as well as labour and including civil society organizations like NLC, TUC, JAF, and others to prevail on the state government and TASUED management to reverse this unjust policy, which currently hangs the future of over 2,000 students on the balance.  

It is not only morally reprehensible but also fraudulent for the APC government of Ibikunle Amosu and its counterparts across the southwest states, who claim to be the inheritors of Obafemi Awolowo’s philosophy of free education as a cardinal program, to now callously and unashamedly price education out the reach of the ordinary people! We recall that it was similar objectionable fees and management highhandedness that triggered the current crisis at Lagos State University (LASU).

The ERC calls on the students’ union to be seriously interested in the plight of the affected students by initiating various legitimate activities including student congresses and media campaign to mount pressure on the management. The union must however include in the demand the drastic reduction in the current outrageous fees being charged in the school.

We also call for sustained joint actions of students in all state-owned higher institutions in Ogun State against outrageous fees.
  
We especially call on all the staff unions of TASUED to learn from the situation in LASU where high school fees and attendant decline in student enrolment have put the job of the staff at risk and thereby support the students in the struggle against fees and exclusion from writing examination.
   
OUR DEMANDS

  • All TASUED students must be allowed to write the examination
  • Immediate withdrawal of security forces from the campus, including OP Messa.
  • No to victimization of students under any guise
  • For adequate funding of public education and cancellation of outrageous fees
  • For democratic control of all resources allocated to education and schools by elected representatives staff unions and students.

Eko John Nicholas
Education Rights Campaign (ERC)
Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State

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