Happy news for parents and guardians in the state, as the Akeredolu administration budgets N209m for the payment of bursary and scholarship to indigenous students in the state.
No doubt, this will go a long way in heaving the financial burden of parents paying fees of their children in tertiary institutions this year.
Payment of high fees by students in tertiary institutions
has been one of the sore points of the present administration in the state.
On assumption of office in 2017, the governor hiked the fees by over 200 per cent, claiming that the fees being paid at the time were unsustainable and unable to provide quality education at the institutions.
This unacceptable development pitched both students and their parents and guardians against government.
Specifically happy on this development is the National Association of Ondo State Students (NAOSS) , which last year protested to Governor Rotimi Akeredolu , on the need to fullfill his promise of disbursing bursary to indigenous students.
National President of the Association, Kikiowo Ayoade, had said that previous administrations paid bursaries to students until 2015, adding that over 6,427 Ondo State students have completed their registration.
Payment of astronomical fees was indeed one government took as it has no other choice.
However, it was still magnanimous in reducing the fees when it could.
At a meeting with the students, the governor said, “At my last meeting with you, I said I would find out where they are paying less than what we charge here. What we found out was that for those newly admitted, we still charge the lowest in tuition but for the second year and all, we have state owned institutions that charge lesser than us. And if not for this issue of COVID-19, we have decided to reduce it. We
will reduce it. We will make sure that by next week we make an announcement on the fee “.
“It’s not a matter for political gains. I know by the time we announce it they will turn it to political issue”.
Following promises by both the Peoples Democratic Party and the Zenith Labour Party to slash the fees to an affordable amount, the governor, fearing a backlash from the voting youth, quickly reviewed the fees of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba, downwards.
With the downward review, returning students of the Faculty of Sciences had their fees reduced from N150,000 to N120,000.
The same cut applied to returning students in the Social & Management Sciences.
Students in Agriculture had reduction to N100,000 from N50,000.00; Arts N80, 000 instead of N100,000.
In Education, feesxwere cut to N80,000 from N100,000.
However, the governor did not reduce the fees of those in Law, as it remained N150,000.
Defending the increment, the governor explained the difficulty in any further reduction of tuition fees in tertiary institutions in the state.
At an interactive session with youths and students in the state, he said it would be difficult for the state to operate three state universities successfully without increment in tuition fees.
In 2017, on assumption of office, the governor hiked the fees by over 200 per cent, claiming that the fees being paid at the time were unsustainable and unable to provide quality education at the institutions.
It has been unfortunate that government could not find other creative ways of funding education and reducing the financial burden of parents.
The University of Lagos for instance, produces bread and sachet/ bottle water which it sells to students at very reduced prices.
The institution also runs the Unilag Consult, with which it undertakes consultancy jobs for good fees.
Not done, there are numerous courses done for fees which are not astronomical.
In the United States of America, branded tee shirts, sports wears etc, are sold within and beyond the country.
Funds are raised from these ventures to supplement other sources of funding.
In the same vein, nothing stops these institutions partnering the private sector and wealthy individuals to assist them in various endeavours.
Wealthy individuals and corporate institutions have donated buildings, others renovated some, some donated educational materials , in a bid to renew infrastructure and promote learning in a more conducive environment.
In the same vein, nothing stops these institutions from collaborating with Almumni of the institutions, to provide services , renew or construct infrastructure.
The time has come for government to gradually disengage from quite a number of these tertiary institutions. Its concern should be the protection of students from being extorted while learning in very conducive environment is ensured.
Government should be mindful of appointing only individuals who have adequate clout to bring in individuals and the corporate sector, as well as international donor agencies to develop the institutions, to governing councils of these institutions.
Same applies to Student Unions. Gone are the days of unnecessary adversary or radicalism. Those voted into these unions must be cool headed individuals who will collaborate with the institutions to move things forward.
Not much will be achieved in an environment of animosity.
Furthermore, the government should let institutions pick their Vice Chancellors and Provosts.
Any institution that the three important bodies, Academic Union, Non Academic Union and Students Union, jointly pick a Vice Chancellor or Provost, will certainly progress.
Such an individual will enjoy support of the entire community and will move the institution forward towards progress.
It will therefore be gratifying if government effectively utilises this budgetary provision to heave the financial burden of parents and guardians.
Other areas of possible funding identified must be aggressively pursued, so that the issue of fee increment in government owned tertiary institutions will be a thing of the past.