By J.B. Ogar
Aware that there have been arguments from various quarters that education all over the world is expensive, implying therefore that, to produce one graduate from any tertiary institution in recent times is no little business, albeit the fact that there’s hardly any government that doesn’t realise the importance of education for its citizens.
Important to state that some governments subsidise education for their citizens, while others pick up the bills only to be paid by the graduates upon graduation, whereas others in accordance with prevailing circumstances of their clime make it entirely free.
In Nigeria, especially in Federal Universities, apart from taking up the responsibility of staff emoluments by the government, the business of administering the Universities is left squarely on the shoulders of Vice Chancellors (VCs), such as the administration of exams, provision of security for staff and students, availability of power and energy, the health of the students, maintenance of clean and conducive working and learning environment, purchase of consumables like reagents, chemicals, and other essentials for the laboratories, and also the provision of quality libraries to mention but a few, are responsibilities that have been left to the Vice Chancellors to shoulder.
Important to note again, is that, recent economic reforms that have been introduced by the federal government have occasioned attendant corresponding hikes in the cost of goods and services, and the University of Calabar is not insulated from the debilitating and spiralled economic realities of the present day Nigeria, as skyrocketed prices are hitting the roofs in homes, religious worship centres, entertainment and hospitality industries, as well as factories, and
businesses across board, and so are the prices for the provision of the goods and services needed to administer a University so hugely increased.
In light of the foregoing, Chapter 2 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, provides for education as a right for all Nigerian Citizens, and the jurisprudential debate of the justifiability of such a right has remained in the front burner of judicial discourse. For now, tertiary education is regrettably what it is, and only amenable to economic market forces, leading the sector to the concept of corporatisation and/or marketisation of tertiary education.
Although an unfortunate reality, it is the reality that Vice-Chancellors have to administer Universities despite the seeming disruptive economic reforms that have engendered an exponential spike in the cost of everything in Nigeria.
Accordingly, several Universities in Nigeria have increased their school charges, and a cursory check reveals that the rates of school charges as recently announced by the Management of the University of Calabar (UNICAL) is still significantly below what is being charged in other Varsities such as UNIJOS, AE-FUNAI, OAU, UNILAG, BUK, etc.
In the face of the facts available to all, and further faced with the imperative of not shutting down the University, it is crystal clear that the school charges hike in UNICAL is done in good faith, and our appeal to the students is to allow good reason to prevail and go to the negotiating table with Management of the University other than doing the converse since Management has given in to the demands by staying action on the published new charges.
CAVEAT: Views expressed in this article are those of the author, Comrade J.B. Ogar, and not in any way related to that of CONVERSEER and or its staff.