Thursday 4 September 2014

MOCPED: A Basket of Crises

* Students Groan under Inadequate Facilities and Outrageous Fees
* Graduates of Degree Program Lament Non-Release of Result/Certificate Four Years after

By ERC Reporters

Michael Otedola College of Primary Education (MOCPED) formerly known as Lagos State College of Primary Education (LACOPED) located in Epe is a teacher training college established in 1994.  

Today the College is an eyesore. In the first place, the College resembles nothing close to a tertiary institution. Actually there are some public secondary schools that can boast of better facilities and buildings than MOCPED. You only have to visit MOCPED to fully understand why there is low quality of teaching and mass failure of pupils.

The students, majority of who may have chosen the institution due to difficulty in gaining admission to better schools, are treated like cash cows to be milked dry. National Certificate of Education (NCE) students pay between N24, 600 and over N50, 000 yet they have no facilities for quality education.

In 2006/2007 academic session, the College decided to float a degree programme affiliated with the Ekiti State University (EKSU). Students under this program are divided into fulltime and sandwich categories, and they pay between N82,000 and N106,000 as fees. According to reports, current full-time students under the degree program are paying fees without being issued receipts. But that is not the whole story. Actually about eight years since the degree program began, the students that graduated (and there have been four graduating sets) have not received their results neither have they been issued certificates. It is four years now since the first set have graduated and yet no results. Unfortunately, no-one, except the management, knows what the problem is. The provost Prof. Olu Akeusola is not providing any answer to the enquries by students while EKSU too is keeping mum. However there is a prevalent belief that the reason for this state of affairs was the inability of MOCPED to keep up with payment to EKSU which is part of the agreement for the affiliated degree program.

On Friday 29, August 2014, a two-man delegation of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) visited the institution on the invitation of graduates of the degree program of the College who are getting prepared to begin a campaign for the release of their results and certificates. The two comrades are H.T Soweto the National Coordinator and Dimeji Macaulay, member of ERC.

ERC members and MOCPED Students' Union Leaders
We arrived the school tired and hungry, and went in search of a canteen to eat. Three female students walked in to eat also and from there a conversation started which soon revealed to us the deep-seated anger among a majority of the students as well as the vendors. As the female students lamented the outrageous fees they are made to pay as tuition fees, the food vendor lamented the decline in patronage as many students cannot afford to eat out after paying such outrageous fees. This was well reflected in the quality of her food. Her meats are cut so small that they are no much bigger than a dose of panadol. But according to her "the students cannot afford to pay more than 20 Naira for meat and even at that several students buy food without meat". Another female student lamented how she often has to walk long distances because some weeks she cannot afford bus fares.

We first held a meeting with the newly-reinstated Students Union leadership which included key members of the union like the speaker of the union, PRO, Financial Secretary and General Secretary. It was an eye-opener. The Students Union speaker gave the situation report of the campus and the problems confronting the union and the students as a whole. She explained that the students union was just reinstated and they have been trying to put things together but the management is not helping matters. According to her, it seems that though the Management reinstated the union, it is making every effort to ensure it is ineffective. For instance the new leadership met no money in the union account and the management has refused to provide them with a take-off grant. The bus of the old Union has been converted by the Management to its use.

She mentioned other challenges confronting them ranging from underfunding to total neglect by the state government, E- portal payment, lack of internet service and so on. Recently the union took a step to call a meeting among students to make contribution on what they need and a communiqué was submitted to the management. Thereafter, the management called them for a meeting and promised to address some of the issues but there is the apprehension that nothing positive may come out of it.

A major weakness of the union is that its membership only extends to NCE students alone. The degree students are kept out even though their population is more than that of NCE students and it’s still increasing. Only the management will benefit from this kind of divisive arrangement as it will be able to play one section of students against another. Meanwhile all the students regardless of their program suffer from the same poor conditions of facilities on the campus and high fees. As the ERC delegation advised, the best way to begin to strengthen the union for the inevitable struggles ahead is to unite all NCE and Degree students under its umbrella. The first step in this direction should be a public statement by the union advocating issues affecting the degree students most especially fees and non-release of results. Others are public programs and activities on campus to build the consciousness of students.
ERC members and some of affected MOCPED degree program graduates
The second meeting started around 12 noon with the graduates of MOCPED/EKSU Degree program that have not been issued results for the past four years now. For some time now, the concerned individuals have been trying to organise themselves by holding regular meetings. According to them, those affected by the non-release of results are in thousands. However, only a few of them are actually taking active part at this stage. Also the current degree students are not playing any role in the movement. One of the key agreements at the meeting was the need to reach out to all those concerned including the present degree students. Also there is an urgent need for a campaign that can compel the authorities of EKSU, MOCPED and the Lagos State government to find ways to release their results.

The mood at the meeting indicated a determination to fight till victory. Many lamented what they have suffered over the years including lack of jobs due to the certificate. However, there is the need to get more people involved and build the movement further. At the end of the day, we agreed to launch a campaign to be called #ReleaseOurResults on Social Media, press campaign and letters to EKSU and MOCPED demanding the release of results and issuance of certificates to all those affected. Another meeting is to take place on Saturday 13 September 2014 to assess the struggle and other steps to be taken. A five-man committee was formed to handle the Social Media campaign. Twenty two (22) affected graduates attended the meeting. Five copies of Socialist Democracy (SD) - the paper of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) were sold. One thousand, two hundred and seventy naira was raised as fighting fund to build and sustain the struggle.

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