· Demands the immediate and unconditional reversal of the obnoxious fee
· Calls for an organized movement of students against all forms of fee hike including the administrative fee
· Demands for a general congress of students to address this issue among others
· Demands for proper and adequate funding of public education
· For free and functional education must be accessible by all
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) Ondo State Chapter condemns the 35% hike in the tuition fee of the fresh degree students of Adeyemi College of Education, Ondo from N39, 000 (for Arts, languages and education) to N55, 500 and from N39, 500 (for science and science, vocation and technical education) to N60, 500. We note that this increment has come in a period of economic hardship viz-a-viz non-payment of salaries across majority of the states in the country, and inflation which has led to increases in the cost of goods and services. We consider this increment as anti-students and anti-poor. If implemented, it is capable of limiting many students from accessing public education in the country.
Meanwhile this fee increment does not come as a surprise. It is a logical culmination of the series of anti-poor increases in payable fees that the authorities of Adeyemi College of Education (ACE) Ondo have been imposing on students and their poor parents over the years. No doubt the authorities of ACE have continued to impose all kinds of ridiculous charges. For instance during the 2011/2012 academic session, the management introduced a so-called maintenance fee of N3, 000 for degree and N2, 000 for NCE students. Similarly during the 2012/2013 academic session, the authorities introduced acceptance fee of N10, 000 while in the 2014/2015 academic session, an administrative fee of N10, 000 was introduced.
The argument behind the introduction of maintenance fee in the 2011/2013 session was to cater for the immediate needs of the departments and schools (faculties) but this has not stopped the heads and deans of various schools and departments from demanding a quota from the students’ association purse.
Also, the acceptance fee which was introduced in2012/2013session in the name of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) has continued to defy the law of gravity, growing to as much as N25, 000 (for degree students) and N20, 000 (for NCE students) in 2016/2017 session.
Not only limited to this, an administrative fee of 10,000 was as well introduced in 2014/2015 which started with fresh students only. By this, the increment affected only fresh students and they will continue to pay it till they graduate. As at present, only the 400level students are exempted from this fee. This means that all students will have to pay this fee starting from the next session. This same method was again used for the latest hike in fees in the college.
This tactical hike in fee is not unconnected with the threat from the mother institution – Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile-Ife –which allegedly has threatened to terminate its affiliation if these anti-students policies are not implemented. As the management of ACE Ondo has justified, the administrative fee is meant to cater for the salary arrears and remunerations of the staff taking degree courses as they were only employed for NCE programs and OAU is not taking the responsibilities of remunerating them. In addition to this, it was also stated that it is a norm and it is being done in every other institutions having an affiliation (University of Ibadan, COE Ilesha as example). ERC wonder why students will have to pay for services of the staff in a federal institution. As far as we are concerned, since the degree programme is approved by relevant bodies, the government which is the owner of both institutions should take up the responsibility of paying the salaries and allowances of the academic staff.
Not limited to this, the same mother institution, OAU, has also demanded for an increment in the fee of the degree students of the affiliate institution, ACE Ondo, to level up with that of OAU faculty of Education if the students want to continue earning the certificate of OAU. The 100% increment proposed by OAU was later negotiated and reduced to the present fee which is statistically 35% greater than the initial fee. While not accepting that the current fee being paid by OAU Education students is fair and just, ERC wonders why ACE students will have to pay the same fee as OAU students when both do not enjoy neither the same amenities nor taught under the same learning conditions. If this threat amidst others are not resisted, ERC fears many and even worse policies will arise in future.
With the explanations above, we can conclude that the inability of ACE to resist various anti-students policies compelled on them has resulted in series of hike in fees. Also, the increment is tactical, starting only with fresh students with the tactics that stale students may not intervene and fresh students (who are actually eager for admission) would graciously pay. Also, the decision of the students union to negotiate the fee without the consent of the majority of the students they represent is condemnable. It is imperative that the rank and file of students must be consulted before such a negotiation is made. For issues relating to students, a well-attended congress of students must be convened with a view to properly convey the
opinion of students to the management. Hence, a congress of students is inevitable
at this point.
The fact that the fee affects only fresh is not an enough reasons for students not to reject such. We should be reminded that the birth of the administrative fee was the same which later attracted lots of mixed reactions later. Also, it should be noted that even NCE students who may actually want to come over for their Degree programs will surely be affected by this. Hence, we call on a radical thinking of students towards this. In essence, we urge students not to fall for this divide and rule gimmick of the college management. Stale and fresh students are the same; they study under the same terrible conditions of learning. We therefore call for unity of all students to resist the fee hike through mass demonstrations and lecture boycotts.
Considering that many ACE students are self-sponsored while several others are children of public workers who are being owed backlog of salaries, the outcome of this is that many students will be denied access to public education and forced to wait for another year at home. The set of students who have been denied of admission will seek for alternative thereby teaming up to engage in various social vices such as raping, smoking, drinking, cultism, stealing, kidnapping and consequently armed robbery.
Our position as Education Rights Campaign is that free and quality education must be accessible to all. Consequent upon this background, we call on students and activists to resist these future-ruining anti-students policies. Students should understand that if these various threats of the ACE and OAU authorities are not resisted, the upcoming policies might be extremely unbearable and force many students who cannot cope to drop out. We also call on staff unions in the College to oppose the fee hike and stand in solidarity with students until the struggle for reversal is won. This is essential because ACE management may want to use the need for payment of the salary and allowances of workers to justify the anti-poor increment with a view to driving a wedge between students and workers in the institution.
While the management can be timid to confront these policies from OAU for the fear of losing its affiliation, students must start organizing themselves to take up this issue with a view to delivering ACE from any further attack on the campus. We also call on student activist and left organizations in OAU to take up this issue with a view to stopping OAU from any further intimidation on ACE as well as the complete reversal of the existing anti-poor policies.
In conclusion, a general congress of students at this point is inevitable and long overdue. We propose that if the union leadership refuses to call for a congress, the congress of students should start mobilizing themselves with a view to demanding for the reversal of this fee. Also, students need to start demanding for an increased budgetary allocation to education so that the drive to increase the internally generated revenue (IGR) will be totally suppressed and free and functional education will be accessible to all. It is until the students and workers are organized that all these policies can be resisted.
Owoyomi Damilola Owot
Ondo State Coordinator
Education Rights Campaign (ERC)