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UI: A fee hike of controversy

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  • ˜Parents: Varsity’s decision should be reversed
  • ˜Students: We’ll resist increment

 

 

 

Following the new fees regime introduced for medical students by the authorities of the University of Ibadan (UI), the students, joined by other undergraduates of the institution, have vowed to resist any form of fees hike in the university.

 

When the authorities of the nation’s premier university, the University of Ibadan (UI) on April 4, announced a new fees regime medical students of the College of Medicine, little did they realized that their action would set the students against the management. Consequently, it is no longer the best of times for the students, who are expected to pay N100,000 for their professional training, and N40,000 as accommodation levy, which was increased from N14,000 per bed-space.

But, since the announcement was made, peace and tranquility on campus have continued to elude the university, as the students vowed to challenge the management’s action. Although, the university management led by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Idowu Olayinka advanced some reasons for the increment, which among them, according to him, is paucity of funds confronting the university as result of the shortage in the subvention or grants from the Federal Government, the proprietor of the university.

The other reason adduced by the Vice-Chancellor to justify the increment is the inability of the institution to continue to subsidize the students’ hostel accommodation. But, the medical students frowned at the decision, and protested against the increment, which they considered draconian and violation of their rights to acquire education.

However, insisting on wielding the big stick, the Registrar, Olujinmi Olukoya, had on behalf of the Senate of the university, issued a memodirecting all medical students resident in Alexander Brown Hall, University College Hospital, Ibadan to vacate their rooms on Saturday, April 7.

The letter signed by the Registrar, specified: “The Academic Board of the College of Medicine, UI considered the possible security threat that the students’ agitation against the new fees could pose and recommended that the hostel should be closed. The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Idowu Olayinka, had approved the board recommendation and directed that the students should leave the hostel before 12 noon on Saturday.” Like Harmattan fire, the medical students were joined in the protest by other undergraduates of the university, who claimed that the accommodation increment from N14,000 to N40,000 was unacceptable.

Their major grouse was that the university authorities were not fair to them, their parents and guardians over its failure to widely consult them before arriving at a decision to increase their tuition and accommodation fees in this period of economic recession in the country. Worried by the university’s action, President of the Medical Students Association of the university chapter, Olakorede Jacob, and the General Secretary, Yahya Bashir, respectively condemned the closure of the hostel and that the Registrar’s letter was not written on the institution’s letterhead or dated, and again they claimed that the letter was not signed by the new Registrar, Mrs. Olubunmi Faluyi.However, the Director of Public Communication of the institution, Mr. Olatunji Oladejo, though confirmed that the students had been ordered by a letter from the Registrar to vacate the hostel pending review of the situation, he said that the new Registrar, Mrs. Faluyi, did not sign the letter because she was to assume office on Monday, April 8. Piqued by the development, some of the students, who spoke with New Telegraph, wondered why the medical students were singled out for the new professional training fee, arguing that such professional training fee was not introduced to students under professional training in other fields. One of the students, who preferred anonymity said: “The professional training levy has no justification in the first instance. It is illegal and it contradicts the Federal Government policy, which set N45,000 ceiling as school fees in all federal universities.

The university management did not consult us or our parents, or offer any genuine reason for the new fees regime. This is against Section 7 of the University Act of 2003. “None of the 17 federal medical schools in the country is paying such high levy. Considering the economic hardship in the country currently, this new fees is an added burden on our parents.” But, while defending the institution’s action, the Vice-Chancellor said that the new levies was as a result of the fact that the university had over the years been spending about N100 million yearly over what it collected in running hostel accommodation for students.

He expatiated further that while students are currently paying N14,000 per bed-space, the partial economic rate based on 2012 survey conducted by the institution, per bed-space stands at N59,650 per session. Meanwhile, since the students refused to agree with the management on the increment, the Senate of the university decided to convene a stakeholders’ meeting on Aril 11, where all the grey areas about the levy increase would be addressed and brought to an amicable settlement.

The meeting, which took place at the Trenchard Hall of the institution, was attended by parents, guardians, students and the authorities of the university, where all parties were said to have put their cards on the table with a view to address their different on the contentious issues.

A former Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Omoniyi Adewoye, who chaired and moderated the meeting, assured stakeholders that the authorities would deliberate extensively on the outcome of the meeting and put all necessary measures in place to resolve the differences. Principal Officers of the university at the meeting were the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, (Administration), Prof. Emilolorun Aiyelari; Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research, Innovation and Strategy Partnership), Prof. Olaniyi Adeyemo; Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academics), Prof. Adeyinka Aderinto, who were led by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Idowu Olayinka. In his remarks, Olayinka said the management resolved to increase the fees in order to allow the students have all what it takes to enjoy their studies on campus. He said: “The university can no longer provide accommodation for all the students on the campus because it is not a fully residential institution.

The total population of students is about 27,000 and there are only 8,222 available bed spaces, which is 30 per cent of the total students on our campus.” To address the imbroglio, which many parents said was akin to place the cart before the horse, a parent, Fashina Olusegun, said that the university’s position was grossly uncomfortable and unacceptable, noting that the authorities should have called the meeting before forcing the levies down their throats. He, therefore, blamed the Federal Government for under-funding the education sector, especially tertiary institution, which the resulted to the crisis. Another parent, Mr. Umeh Reuben, who supported Fashina’s position, said that he felt that “whatever decision the university authorities could have taken, this type of meeting should have been held first, and this kind of rancour generated by the management’s arbitrariness would not have arisen. Sending students packing and making them to stay in the rain with their luggage should not have been allowed to happen in the first instance.” Similarly, another aggrieved parent, Elder M.O Osunubi said: “We cannot afford private universities’ tuition, reason we brought our children here. The Federal Government’s minimum wage is N18,000.

I am a federal government worker and so this kind of increment should have been gradual to ease the payment for the parents. I think the school authority should go back to the drawing board to see what they can do about the increment as we the parents are not ready to go with the increment from N14,000 to N30,000. We should come to the conclusion that the university’s decision should be reversed.

This is my motion and I want someone to come out and support it.” Mrs. Bode Akinola also a parent noted that the nation’s economy had nose-dived indeed, but appealed that the increment should be gradual and not just at once as parents were not aware and ready for such for cost. Also, Mr. Robert Obiaha, another parent, noted that if the authorities of the institution are really considerate it would not be collecting acceptance fee, which is usually outside the tuition fee, while at another breadth, it decided to increase accommodation and training fees to the discomfort of the students and their parents or guardians. “We have to be realistic. What can we do is the question to be asked. The issue on ground is that which all of us must sacrifice. Let us agree at a point on how we can resolve this crisis.

Similarly, another speaker, who supported the VC’s position, noted that “we cannot decide for the university here, but the university can consider our plea and review backward the fees and levies.” To register their grievances and disapproval of the authority’s explanation to justify the increment, a section of the students were said to have gathered outside the venue of the meeting with placards of various inscriptions, such as “No reversal, no resumption; “We say no to increment”, “Parents, students, and workers must be involved in the decision making process of the school,” among others to protest the increment. But, ahead of resumption of fresh students on April 22 for the 2017/2018 academic session and that of the returning students billed for May 5, the students expressed hope that something tangible would have been done to resolve the crisis, as the threatened to challenge the action of the management.

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Education

Lagos insists education policy review process is open

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The Lagos State Government has said the process of reviewing the state’s 30-year-old education policy is open and transparent, insisting that the stakeholders’ meeting was aimed at subjecting the new document to public scrutiny. The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Mrs. Adebunmi Adekanye who made this clarification, revealed that the stakeholders’ meeting is the fourth level of the engagements, noting that the process had started with the Need Analysis. She explained: “The second step was the Policy Contact, which was an outreach for the experts and key stakeholders by the ministry in January 2016.

The third stage was the Research and Drafting process where the Ministerial Establishment and education experts were engaged in a three-day retreat between December 14 and 16, 2017.” On which step that will follow the stakeholders’ forum, she said the document would go through a second stage of drafting where all the contributions from the consultation forum and others that might come in form of written documents will be considered. She said the document is still open to suggestion, adding that, even though the draft could not be released to everyone, experts and stakeholders are at liberty to suggest input due to their experience on the field.

The second and last stages, according to her, are the presentation to the State Executive Council for approval and subsequent presentation of the final document to the public. While adding that the various steps had been diligently and painstakingly followed, she pointed out that until the last two steps had been taken, the document is still open to ideas as nothing is shrouded in secrecy.

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Education

TETFund, UNILAG to combat environmental degradation

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The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) and the management of University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, have expressed commitment to protect the earth by engaging in relevant research that will address issues of environmental degradation and biodiversity. This was as the university inaugurated the Centre for Biodiversity Conservation and Ecosystem Management (CEBCEM) towards making meaningful contributions to the conservation of the environment.

The TETFund Executive Secretary, Dr. Abdullahi Baffa, who was the keynote speaker at the inauguration of the centre, pledged the readiness of the funding agency towards sponsorship of research works to be carried out by the centre, which will support environmental reclamation. While commending the university management for the initiative, Baffa, however, appealed to researchers and other stakeholders including government, civil societies and development partners to strengthen collaboration to address the challenges posed by environmental degradation to the country. According to the TETFund boss, adequate research activities on environmental conservation would ensure sustainable ecosystem and contribute substantially to efforts to reverse the loss of biodiversity,and ensure that effects of climate change are tackled, as well as averted the crisis of degradation of the environment.

He said: “Quality researches will ensure that the crises of degradation of the environment are averted and that the damage the people are doing to the ecosystem must be put to a stop. All these would require a number of actions from a spectrum of stakeholders, including individuals, communities, government, multinationals and civil societies, among others.

“The first thing is advocacy; people must be aware of the threats that our planet is facing, and they must appreciate that these threats are real. The people must know what factors are contributing to these challenges, and these are what this centre has promised to do. We will support it.” Meanwhile, the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, said the birth of the centre would add value to the nation’s research efforts and contribute greatly to the conservation of the environment.

He stressed: “What we want to achieve with the establishment of this centre is to initiate demand-driven research in order to assist communities and the nation on food security, environmental conservation and to also conduct research that will make us to see the potentials that are inherent in the environment for the people to tap into.”

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Bauchi’s special schools were established to bridge learning gaps – Board chair

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Yakubu Ibrahim Hamza is the Chairman of Bauchi State Special Schools Board. He speaks with ALI GARBA in this interview on the activities of the board and the effort of the Governor Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar-led administration to transform the state’s education system.

 

How would you assess the level of development of education in the state and the activities of the Board in the running of the special schools?

When this administration came on board, the entire education sector was in shamble, there was the dearth of infrastructure in almost all institutions of learning. Teaching and learning were at their lowest ebb, while students’ performance in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) and NECO Senior School Certificate Examination were nothing to write home about.

The average performance in the two examinations in 2015, when Governor Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar assumed the mantle of leadership of the state, was 0.3 per cent of students who passed with five credits, including English and Mathematics. The Abubakar-led administration has to take the bull by the horns in the education sector, and as we speak, the administration has within two or so of its stewardship revolutionised the sector, and today one can proudly boast that students’ performance in the state schools in the two examinations that I mentioned earlier has risen from 0.3 per cent in 2015 to 27 per cent in 2017.

This is no doubt a great achievement within such a short period of time. Of course, we in the special schools board have since the inception of this administration or specifically when we assumed office at the board, in view of the priority the governor accorded education, placed special interest in the running of the special schools by meeting all our needs.

These needs are specifically provision of infrastructural facilities such as new school building blocks or classrooms buildings, renovation of existing structures, provision of educational books and materials, students’ desks, improved teachers’ welfare, and above all adequate security of students in their respective schools.It is now crystal clear that the governor has been doing everything humanly possible to raise the standard of education in the state.

In the last WAEC and NECO examinations, for instance, our special schools’ students recorded 90 per cent pass with five credits in English and Mathematics, and this is a great feat, and we have every confidence that the average scores in the two examinations in future especially with the special schools will continue to rise.

Are you saying the improvement was carried out across all the special schools in the state?

Of course, these achievements I am talking about encompass all our eight special schools located across the state. Let me start with the Special Secondary School at Sakwa, the most pressing problem bedeviling the school is inadequate accommodation for teachers and same thing applied to the Government College, Azare, where some of the teachers’ houses were devastated and requiring renovation, complete reconstruction or building of new ones.

There was one of those dilapidated quarters in the college (House 1), which I lived during my teaching career as a teacher in the school and ever since I vacated the house, it has not been occupied for almost 20 years due to its state of dilapidation. But, when it was renovated sometimes last year, the school principal had to move into the building, while the Vice Principal is also occupying the other renovated quarters. Similarly, the Abubakar-led administration has provided all infrastructural needs to the special schools, ranging from teachers’ quarters to classrooms and student hostels or dormitories, as well as the school kitchen.

But, how conducive is teaching and learning process in the special schools?

Let me add here that it may interest you to know that recently the state’s special schools participated in a zonal and national education competition, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja. Bauchi State special schools, which were represented by Jibril Aminu Special Secondary School emerged the North East overall winner of the competition and represented the zone at the national stage of the competition held in Abuja. Participants at the national competition were representatives of the six geo-political zones of the federation, and with the FCT that gave seven categories or teams in the grand event.

The national competition has four federal colleges, the School for the Talented that represented the FCT, one St. Louis College, a private school from either the South East or South-South, and Jibril Aminu Secondary School, the only public institution from all the states in the federation.

Interestingly, the Jibril Aminu School defeated four of the seven schools that participated in the contest to clinch the third position in the competition. This achievement by our special school is attributable to the support and encouragement the state governor is giving to the schools and the board in particular. So, on the part of the board, we are doing everything humanly possible to ensure the rejuvenation of the sub-sector in our own interest and that of leaders of tomorrow.

In other specific terms, what achievements has the board under your watch recorded in the past three years?

The board under the present dispensation has achieved a lot as a result of the moral and financial support being given to it by the Governor Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar-led administration like I have mentioned earlier. For example, the governor introduced what we called 2E programme, which means ‘Eye On Education.’

It is a policy designed to conduct routine inspection visits to special schools and by extension all primary and secondary schools in the state. I was the representative of the special schools board in the state-wide ‘Eye on Education’ programme and it started with the eight special schools under our board before it was subsequently expanded to no fewer than 50 schools across the state.

At the end of every month, the team under the programme inspects all the 50 schools with a view to identifying their problems and where necessary solving them. And, where such problems surpass the programme or 2E team, we request the intervention of the state government be it morally or financially. And based on the magnitude of the problem, at times we advise the respective or concerned schools to solve such problem. Again, where such schools are unable to do that, the board would then come in to see how we can address it.

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