For immediate opening of the university and conduct of examinations
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) calls for the immediate opening of the Abia State University (ABSU) which was shut on Wednesday October 10, 2012 by the management in response to students protest against attempts by the management to bar a large proportion of them from writing examinations unless they paid the recently hiked school fees.
We condemn the closure as well as the fee hike which we consider as anti-poor. We therefore also demand the reversal of the hiked fees and for students to be allowed to write examinations.
The University owned by the Abia state government recently hiked its fees without taking into cognizance the poor working class backgrounds of majority of its students and the dire economic straits in which most working parents are in due to low pay and severe increase in the cost of living.
The ERC believes the "no-fee-no-examination" directive of the university management was provocative and was the cause of students' protest. By this directive, what the university management was telling students was to do anything they could to pay within a week a fee they could not afford to pay for a whole 2 semesters!
Is this not the kind of pressure, caused by government anti-poor policies such as fee hike, that forces the youth into life of crime and prostitution?
Without the protest, a large proportion of students would have to take the only option available which is to drop out of school or go stealing. Early in the year, a similar fate befell over 2000 prospective students of the Lagos State University (LASU) who had to forfeit their admission when the University's fee was increased from N25,000 to between N193, 750 and N348, 750.
These are the horrible consequences of the anti-poor education policies of government at all levels in Nigeria and the protest of ABSU students is an instructive signal that Nigerian students would have none of it anymore.
We demand to know what the Abia State government is doing with its federal allocations and internally generated revenue if it cannot provide sufficient funds for its University without having to heap the burden on poor parents. Evidently much of the state resources needed to fund education and other social services are looted by politicians and their agents.
We therefore call for adequate funding of the university and democratic management of its affairs and resources with elected representatives of the education workers and students.
We fully support the protest and urge the students not to relent until the fees are reversed. To win, the students have to organize themselves peacefully by holding regular meetings to democratically draw out programs and activities to fight for reversal of the fee hike and re-activities opening of the university.
Hassan Taiwo Soweto