Now that most institutions of learning have resumed for the new academic year, there are concerns in some quarters that a good number of new and returning students are not sure of completing the session for reasons mostly connected to the economic realities occasioned, partly by the higher cost of living, and, in some instances, hikes in educational fees.
FWENJI GO´AR writes.
These concerns about students facing challenges related to the economic realities of higher living costs and increased educational fees are valid and important issues. The timeline for seeing improvement in this situation can vary significantly depending on various factors, including government policies, economic conditions, and the specific circumstances of each educational institution.
Government policies play a crucial role in addressing these concerns. If governments at various levels (local, state, or national) implement measures to reduce the economic burden on students and their families, such as providing financial aid, scholarships, or subsidies for education, this can lead to immediate relief.
Economic conditions can greatly affect the affordability of education. Improvements in the overall economy, including job opportunities and income levels, can alleviate financial stress for families. However, economic recoveries can take time and may not happen immediately.
Educational institutions themselves can take steps to address affordability issues. They may explore options like flexible payment plans, cost-cutting measures, or finding alternative revenue sources to limit tuition fee increases.
Nonprofit organisations, community foundations, and private entities often offer scholarships and financial assistance to students in need. Increasing awareness of these resources and expanding their availability can have a positive impact.
Advocacy efforts by students, parents, educators, and concerned citizens can raise awareness about the challenges students face and push for policy changes and financial support.
Sustainable improvements may take time and require long-term planning. This may seem like a herculean task, but, governments and institutions can work together to develop comprehensive strategies for making education more affordable and accessible in the long run.
It’s essential to recognise that improving the economic realities facing students is a complex and multifaceted issue. The timeline for seeing significant improvement can vary from place to place and may depend on a combination of the factors mentioned above.
Tertiary institutions across the country have begun a new session. We have seen protests from the Academic Staff Union of Universities, parents and students as more universities continue to hike their fees amidst the worsening economy. ASUU as well as the associations of parents and students have warned about the likelihood of mass dropouts of students following the hikes in fees by the universities across the country. Parents expressed concerns over the implication of the fee hike for their children and wards in public tertiary institutions.
Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, ASUU President was not happy about the fee increases, noting that the university is not a profit-making commercial centre. An instance is that of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State where the Senate took the decision to hike fees at an emergency meeting. In their own case, fresh students in the Faculties of Arts, Law and Humanities would pay N151, 200, while returning students of the same faculties would pay N89,200, as against the N20,100 paid last session. As for new students being admitted into the College of Health Sciences and the Faculty of Pharmacy, a sum of N190, 200 is to be paid, while returning students, who paid N28,100 in the last academic session, will have to pay N128, 200.
Ordinarily, these hikes in fees should not pose so much of a threat, but the fact that there is no commensurate increase in the income of most parents and guardians, thereby making it a heavy burden to bear. In these kinds of situations, the choices available are minimal.
When these kinds of circumstances present themselves, and the probability of carrying on with studies seem unattainable, the purpose for education would be defeated. But then, what is the purpose of education? Why is it that we are doing all we can to flee illiteracy?
The ultimate purpose of education is a subject of debate and can vary depending on cultural, societal, and individual perspectives. Different stakeholders, such as educators, policymakers, parents, and students, may have varying goals for education. But that is not to say there are no purposes associated with education.
Amongst these purposes are the fact that education helps individuals develop their intellectual, emotional, and social capacities. Education fosters personal growth, self-awareness, and gives you the chance to have the ability to lead a fulfilling life. Education is a means to acquire knowledge, skills, and information across various subjects and fields, enabling individuals to better understand the world around them. Education encourages critical thinking and problem-solving skills, enabling individuals to analyse information, make informed decisions, and adapt to new situations.
One other importance of education is that it equips individuals with the skills and knowledge necessary to pursue careers and contribute to the economy. It prepares them for various professions and job opportunities. Education plays a vital role in creating informed and responsible citizens who can actively participate in the democratic process, engage in their communities, and promote social and political awareness. It helps individuals understand their own culture and heritage while also fostering an appreciation for the diversity of other cultures. It promotes social cohesion and inclusivity.
Education can serve as a means to reduce socioeconomic disparities by providing individuals with opportunities for upward mobility and improving their quality of life. It is essential for driving innovation, scientific advancements, and technological progress, which benefits society as a whole.
There are arguments that education should also emphasise ethical and moral values, helping individuals become responsible and ethical members of society. Education can empower individuals to pursue their passions and interests, leading to a sense of personal fulfilment and happiness.
So then, it can be said that the ultimate purpose of education can vary from person to person and society to society. It often reflects the values and goals of a particular culture or community. Many educational systems aim to address multiple aspects of these purposes, recognising that education is a multifaceted tool for personal and societal development. Additionally, the purpose of education may evolve over time to adapt to changing social, economic, and technological contexts.
That, to me, is the reason why every human on earth that has a purpose needs to be given the fair chance of getting an education, to whatever level he or she aspires to reach. Ultimately, the goal should be to create a more inclusive and affordable educational system that ensures that all students have the opportunity to complete their academic sessions without undue financial constraints.
It’s important to note that improving the economic conditions of families and addressing educational affordability are complex challenges that may not have quick solutions. It often requires the collective efforts of government, civil society, educational institutions, and the private sector. Progress may vary from one region or country to another, depending on local circumstances and priorities.
To see significant and lasting improvement in the ability of students to complete their academic years despite economic challenges, it will likely require sustained efforts and a commitment to making education more accessible and affordable for all.
At the inception of the Tinubu administration, and precisely on the day of his inauguration, Nigerians got the wind that tougher times were ahead, consequent upon the fact that fuel subsidy was removed, and other economic hard-knocks were thrown at the populace. For sure, we knew from day 1 that we had to brace up for whatever was to come. And in this case, it was not at all expected to be easy, or to be a light burden for the masses.
On the flip side of the coin, there is this assertion that the government is not helping matters at all by the evident neglect of our tertiary education sector. The strikes by ASUU and other unions to press for improved conditions of service, facility upgrades, and the like have in a way exposed the governments’ seeming lack of interest, or backup action in meeting some of those basic requirements for the growth of education. These are some of the reasons that we are where we are today.
The funding requirements of education in our tertiary institutions is humongous, and revenue sources are not in abundance. We cannot deny that education is capital intensive. Many of our institutions are underfunded. This is to say the glory days of education in the country are, sadly, over.
There are insinuations in some quarters that there’s an unwritten plan to “kill” education in Nigeria by neglecting government owned tertiary institutions, and by starving them of funds so that they are forced to increase fees and the like in order to stay afloat.
This scenario, if left unchecked would mean those who can’t afford to go to private institutions would have no option but to drop out of school.
The increasing expenses of living and activities are restricting admittance to training and past the span of many guardians. While many are now considering the choice of selecting their wards in state funded schools, others will add to the out-of-school bunch. There are fears that numerous students may not return to schools in the foreseeable future.
As of now, a few parents/guardians are thinking about the choice they may be forced to make if they eventually are not able to meet up with the increase in tuition fees and the like. Parents’ choice of selecting state funded schools since they are not charging such extravagant expenses, is raising worries of all kinds as people have other living costs to grapple with.
A huge expansion in educational cost, taking care of transportation and other costs, coupled with different charges have been reported by school leaderships. The declaration somewhere in the range of 200 and 300 percent increment, while others are wanting to do as such is not unconnected with the impacts of the new petroleum pump price.
Impacted generally are schools running a boarding framework with the difficulties of significant expense of food, transportation and different utilities that have eaten profoundly into the increases they made at first.
There are guardians who say the increment was with the assent of partners who likewise recognised the predominant financial circumstance occasioned by rising inflation and breaking down worth of the Naira.
However most tuition based schools, especially the high flying ones, are yet to make an authority declaration of the increment. Such increments, they say, are unavoidable. School charges for the 2023/2024 school year have increased in some cases, and it is claimed that expense of things and current financial circumstances are reasons for this.
These are for sure exceptionally testing times, however we stay confident that there will be reason to have some hope. Sadly, because of the ongoing financial circumstances in the country, we are compelled to reluctantly accept an increase in school charges for this school year.
The higher institutions cannot say the tensions that the overarching real factors have placed on families and as of now and have arrived at this choice with an intense feeling of obligation and an outlook for parents and guardians to keep on supporting their wards in their studies would not exempt them from looking out for the rest of their families as well.
Many of the school authorities have assured that there will not be any compromise in the quality of education, This is a pact that has to be kept in order for us to witness any development, and scholastic greatness.
Parents and guardians in Nigeria are very concerned about the high cost of education in the country. This concern, as already discussed, is driven by various factors, including tuition fees, the cost of textbooks and educational materials, transportation, and the general cost of living.
So, what is it that parents and guardians really want the government to do about the high cost of education in Nigeria?
Most of us would agree that subsidising education will be a welcome idea. We want the government to provide subsidies or grants to reduce the cost of tuition fees at all levels of education, from primary to tertiary. This would make education more affordable for families and enable more children to access quality education.
Parents and guardians are already frustrated with the state of public education in Nigeria. They believe the government should invest more in public schools, including infrastructure, teacher training, and curriculum development, to ensure that quality education is available to all, regardless of socioeconomic status. By doing this, public education will surely improve.
Another thing is for us to see a reduction in the cost of educational materials. Textbooks and educational materials can be quite expensive. That is why parents and guardians desire to see more in terms of government’s intervention by subsidising the cost of textbooks or providing them for free in public schools.
An increase in the amount of scholarships and grants is prayer begging for answers. The government should be seen to doing more in terms of supporting many more students through scholarships and grants to help cover tuition and other educational expenses. Parents and guardians believe that more scholarship opportunities should be made available to reduce the financial burden on families.
High inflation rates in Nigeria contribute to rising living costs, which indirectly affect the cost of education. Parents and guardians are desirous that the government takes more people-friendly measures to stabilise the economy and reduce inflation to make education more affordable, and life in general more meaningful. Government has to address inflation.
One other far-reaching alternate solution to this is by diversifying educational options through the provision of alternative pathways for students who cannot afford, or do not want to pursue traditional academic degrees. There is a need to promote vocational and technical education.
Corruption in the educational system has seriously contributed to higher costs and lower quality. Parents and guardians want the government to take strong measures to root out corruption, especially in educational institutions and ensure that resources are used efficiently.
Increase Investment in Higher Education: The cost of tertiary education in Nigeria is particularly high. Parents and guardians want the government to increase funding for universities and other higher education institutions to reduce tuition fees and improve the quality of education. For us to make headway, there has to be a crackdown on corruption in Nigeria.
As for whether there is hope for addressing the high cost of education in Nigeria, it is no doubt a complex issue. While there have been efforts by the Nigerian government to address some of these concerns, progress has been slow, and challenges persist. The hope lies in continued advocacy by parents, civil society organisations, and the international community to push for reforms in the education sector. Additionally, economic stability and effective governance are critical factors in addressing the high cost of education. It will require a concerted effort from multiple stakeholders to make education more affordable and accessible to all Nigerians.