Former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos (Akoka), Prof. Tolu Odugbemi, in an interview, has said that the government should make the economy viable for parents to afford school fees. He said that from the primary level to the university, and from the family level, the government should make sure that parents have the means to feed themselves. He said that doing this will give the parent more time for the kids at home, and society will not have children who are not well-behaved when there’s parental supervision. He said that happy families raise happy children. And by the time they move to primary schools, they should have a decent environment in primary schools.
On the recent government directive that universities should not increase school fees, he said that the issue is that parents who are not well-fed will not be able to pay the school fees. As an oil-producing country, he said that Nigerian parents and children should not be suffering. Our schools should not hesitate to increase fees, he noted. But he said that while teachers need to survive, parents must also be able to afford the fees.
Government should ensure workers are well paid.
When asked what the government should do, he said that the government should make sure that parents and workers are well paid and the money be readjusted to where it’s supposed to go so that an average worker will be able to eat/live and pay school fees. He hinted that Nigeria problem is a misplaced priority. “We human beings too are not productive because people are not paying enough attention to agriculture. We need to change our policies so that people can be more productive,” he said.
Then, on policy change suggestions, he said that the country should start effective teaching of ethics and dignity of labour and people should show a good example by working. According to him, money earned should be based on production, and not because of free access to the government’s money to the disadvantage of others. He said that there must be total orientation of the entire citizens of Africa so that Nigerians can be more focused and make this system work better.
Educational sector has taken hits in the last few months.
In the last few months, the educational sector has taken a lot of hits, especially in the tertiary education sector. The Federal Government had stopped the funding of universities, prompting the increase of school fees by various institutions. The University of Lagos was one of the last tertiary institutions that had successfully had its increment in fee schedule approved by the Ministry of Education. The reason given for the increase is that the university needs funds for its operation.
UNILAG increased its school fees from N21,000 to N100,000 (for non-lab students) and N120,000 (for lab students). In addition to this, a compulsory N15,000 utility fee was introduced. The reason for this is to cover the provision of electricity and water to students on campus. Initially, the university had adopted a load-shedding formula in order to reduce costs. From 8:00 a.m. on Monday, power was cut off from hostels until around 3:00 p.m. when it was restored.
Performance should be the country’s primary goal.
This is why the professor advised that performance should be the primary goal. As a piece of advice for the government, he said that experts should be employed based on merit to advise the government. In essence, there should be no ethnicity or religious bias when picking people who will serve. He also said that whoever is in government should make it a priority that people are safe and secure and they can feed without any fear or favour.
University of Lagos: Website