Tinubu’s Education Policy Is Anti-People

President Tinubu

Tinubu, while addressing the nation on Sallah day tasked the Nigerian people to be ready to make sacrifices with the hope that things will improve in the nearest future.

Unfortunately for the Nigerian people, the sacrifices are glaringly becoming very huge. As a matter of fact, the sacrifices amount to one of the largest coordinated attacks against the people.

Within 3 months of his swearing-in, the price of petrol is now three times higher than it was at the beginning of the year.

The increase in the price of PMS and the 70% devaluation in the official exchange rate of naira to the dollar has also signalled tripled effect on inflation with the cost of goods quadrupling at marketplaces. As if that is not enough, the people are threatened with a 40% increase in electricity tariff.

These are the sacrifices Tinubu expect the Nigerian people to carry. But, the most ridiculous part of it is that Tinubu, as the leader is not expected to carry the sacrifice. The people themselves are the sacrificial lambs.

In order to water the ground for an increment in tuition fees across tertiary institutions in the country, Tinubu came up with the idea of students loan.

According to him, Students loan is important in order to make the poor access to qualitative education. Unfortunately, it was applauded by the Nigerian people knowing fully well that the idea of a student loan is not in any way to their benefit.

Professor Wole Soyinka was right when he wrote that “we are a nation of short memories… mud settles on the eyelids of memory.”

In order to water the ground for an increment in tuition fees across tertiary institutions in the country, Tinubu came up with the idea of students loan

It was meant to be fresh in the memory of the Nigerian people that a great proportion of students became indigent because they were children of poor parents who could not afford school fees in the 70s even with a students’ loan scheme that was established to ‘help’ indigent students whereby poor students from poor homes will be granted loans by the Federal Military Government which they must pay back at the end of their various courses.

In all honesty, a student loan will solve nothing because only a very small percentage of applicants will be considered and granted loans. Information has it that, with 9,000 applicants for the loan in ’73/’74, only 3,165 were considered for loan.

Students’ loan is not in any way for the national interest. If it were to be for national interest, education would not be made a luxury. The unemployment rate of the country is still over 33% (the last time I checked), but we top the list.

The educational policy of Tinubu is undoubtedly elitist and unprogressive and it will prevent individual promotion of talents.

Rather than spinning arguments in support of fee increment, we must task the government to see education as a major investment in the nation’s march to progress and do away with the overstretched inhibition of unnecessary financial restraint which will do nothing but thwart the country’s development.

Even most European countries such as Germany, Switzerland, and Finland amongst others that the online almajiris of the APC cites as examples give free education up to the tertiary level, even UAE. It is not the absence of resources but political will. So, the government must invest more substantially in the education sector, to ensure access to quality education for everyone, regardless of economic background.

I have seen some people argue that so far tuition is still free at our Unity schools, and the increment in the fees payable there is justifiable and within means. But, these set of persons have failed to understand that the parents of the children in these schools are still being paid the same salary as before the increment. In fact, it amounts to inconsistency on the part of a Tinubu who declared that his administration was removing subsidies to fund education and social infrastructure, but, he’s still coordinating a massive attack against the educational sector of the country.

Today, beyond increments in fees across institutions in the country, citizens will have to pay through their noses for electricity, fuel and a lot of things. It is nothing but pure shades of terror.

Section 18 subsection 3 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) states that “government shall and when practicable provide;

(a) free, compulsory and universal primary education;

(b) free secondary education;

(c) free university education; and

(d) free adult literacy programme.

However, there is a clause. And, the clause is that the Constitution mandates the government to strive to eradicate illiteracy. Now, this is where the real issue lies. How do you eradicate illiteracy when access to quality education is being blocked? Logically, the government is meant to deploy every arsenal in ensuring that the people are educated. Unfortunately, the reverse is the case in Nigeria.

For the records, there is practically nowhere in the world where parents are made to pay for the education of their kids for primary and secondary levels not to talk of astronomically increasing fees (I can still name 71 countries of the world). One would have expected this administration to recognise that every child should be given primary as well as secondary education.

Even in the UK, there are no fees for tuition, books or materials. But, what do we get in Nigeria? Even Police and Army officers (whose children are also in Unity schools) get to buy their own uniform, belt, baton, shoes and others by themselves out of the meagre amount they are being paid. How much more primary and secondary school children?

In the UK, financial assistance is given to those whose parents cannot finance their education. And, such assistance is not repayable, unlike the Nigerian students’ loan scheme. It is not out of place for Nigerian students to receive help or aid from public funds or scholastic endowments.

At least, the Nigerian government gives bailout funds running into billions of naira to private investors whenever they are down. We should not be giving this administration a safe landing as far as the welfare of the people is concerned. They must be responsible for a lot of things.

If we have to pay for fuel, electricity, data, housing, and health, then what is the job of the government if education which is at the core of social development is also no longer a social responsibility? Quality education is not dependent on how high institutions charges or by introducing students loan. The funding to secure quality education can only be consistently guaranteed by public funding. Anything other than that is a sham!

Israel writes from Ìbàdàn, Nigeria.

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