Friday 5 October 2012

Independece Day: OAU Students Protest against Attacks on Public Education

*Condemn Oronsaye Report         
 *Call for Proper Funding of  Education

By Olubanji Oluwole

Students of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife in joined a protest march organized by the university’s branch of Education Rights Campaign (ERC) against fees, attacks on democratic rights and general decadence in the educational sector. The ERC had circulated leaflet, held a public meeting and addressed students on the adverse implication of the recommendations of the Federal Government Stephen Oronsaye for introduction tuition fee that could range from N450, 000-N525, 000 and how to fight to defeat the anti-poor agenda. Of course, students agreed that the consequences of this action would range from surging drop out of students from tertiary institutions, aggravating plights of their poor and toiling parents, and an upward increase in rate of crime. This made Great Ife students under the banner of ERC show to the thieving ruling elites who were busy commemorating 52 years of looting that students are preparing for a fight back.

The protest which started by 9am took off from the Anglo-Moz car park with students carrying different placards bearing various inscriptions. This depicted their displeasure concerning the educational sector and their demands. Some of the inscriptions on the placards are; ‘N450, 000-N525, 000 tuition we can’t pay’, ‘we demand 26% budgetary allocation to education’, ‘No to Oronsaye committee report’, ‘No to education underfunding’, ‘we demand a democratic and independent union’, ‘pay N40, 000 COSA to all students now’  and many more. Worthy of note was the social consciousness displayed by Great Ife students, who despite attempts by the administration to cripple students’ union activities through an illegal ban on the union came out of their rooms not minding the heavy presence of the security outfit of the university to join the protest. The students also used the October 1 protest to agitate for the democratic restoration of OAU students’ union. 

The procession eventually ended at the Students’ Union Building (SUB) with speeches from student activists. Addressing the students were Com Odun (Gen-Sec, DSM OAU branch), Com Govern (Coordinator, ERC OAU branch), Com Sammie (Chairman Students’ Security Committee), Com. Engels (Secretary, ERC OAU). In Com. Odun’s address, he pointed out that protest explosion on Independence Day across the country is a sign that Nigerians are displeased about situation of things in the country. He reiterated the demand of ERC for adequate funding of education and democratic management of the institutions with elected representatives of workers and students. He also assured the crowd that the ERC would continue to agitate and mobilize students for the restoration of the students’ union and the improvement in learning atmosphere and general welfare.   

For us in the ERC the mass actions nationwide by students on Independence Day show that students are prepared to stage fight-back against attacks on public education. What is needed is a formidable students’ movement that can provide leadership and link struggle to the overall struggle of the working people and youths against the entire anti-poor neo-liberal capitalist policies. We strongly maintain our firm opposition to fee hike under any guise. We strongly believe that the resources at the disposal of government at all levels are enough to provide free and functional education.

The OAU branch of the ERC also sees the mass action of students as not the end of the fight against government attack on education but as the beginning of a campaign for more coordinated mass action in the future.

1 comment:

Education Rights Campaign (ERC) said...

Hey thanks Alex and Martin for the comments! Dont worry Alex would do the same. Hoping to have more comment from you guys!