Stakeholders see education loans, fixed tuition policy as panacea to ASUU strikes

By Dayo Adesulu

AS the skrike action embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, clocks nine weeks today, some concerned stakeholders in the sector who are apparently frustrated by the lingering industrial action, seek for a fixed base system where government  will  establish education loan and every undergraduate pays between N300,000 and N400,000 per session.

They argued that since the academic union’s strike has   become a recurring decimal in  our nation, the Federal Government should emulate   developed countries on how  they solved the problem in their education sector to forestall incessant strike actions.

A lecture hall in the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi,

Speaking in this regard, Chairman, Parents Teachers Association, Maryland Comprehensive Secondary School, Mr. James Emadoye said the Federal Government should emulate the United States and United Kingdom to forestall the incessant ASUU strike.

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He said: “In the US, an average citizen pays between $9,000 and $14,000, while in the UK, they pay an average of $20,000. However, the good thing is that once you gain admission, you go to the bank if your parents are unable to sponsor and they give you education loan.

“The UK has just changed their system. When you take education  loan, until you get a meaningful paying job and you are able to earn 25,000 pounds a year, you don’t start repaying that loan.

“We have also made this proposition to government. That is what we should do to detach the university/tertiary educational system from the government.

“We have proposed in some other fora that we should change the system to a fixed base system, let every child in the university pay between N300,000 and N400,000 per session and establish what we call education loan bank system.”

According to him, 14 African countries, including Ghana, have adopted that system. He lamented that in Nigeria, everybody wants everything free.

“Getting everything  free will not help us get the right attitude from our children.”

He explained that when the undergraduates know that after their graduation, they would pay back some loans, they will become more responsible.

He continued: “By so doing, the issue of fraud among our youths will be eliminated and the government will be able to deploy the monies being saved from all these current budgetary allocations into other aspects of the economy and the economy will become better. So, that is a solution that has been given to government.

“The educational system at the tertiary level is totally dependent on government  allocation and that is the problem. Vice-chancellors, instead of doing their primary duties in their schools, go to Abuja, first to the National Assembly to beg for budgetary allocation, and then to the Budget Office and Minister of Education to seek release of the allocation and this is the problem.

Emadoye who spoke during a Press briefing to announce the 50th anniversary of Maryland Comprehensive Secondary School, urged the Federal Government to also learn from the way Catholic schools are run globally.

He said: “It is a very painful thing that in the year 2018/2019, we are still having   strike actions in our nation. As a matter of fact, the Catholic Mission has taught us good lessons on how to educate our students. It is unfortunate that we are unable to learn from the mission the way they have succeeded in managing and giving us good education over the years.

“The Catholic schools were paying but we were proud to associate with them because we knew the quality that we were getting from the schools.

On her part, the Administrator, Maryland Comprehensive Secondary School,  Rev. Sister Agnes Adepoju lauded the idea of introducing a fixed  base system and  education loan.

She, however, called for consideration of students from poor families in such policy.

She said: “The suggestion is great,  but I am just thinking about families that are very poor that cannot afford N300,000 per annum for their children.

“If we take this away from the government and make it a fixed base, just think about people who will not be able to afford it even with the loan. Such system will work well when we know we have a government who has the interest of the masses at heart. “It will work when we are sure that after graduation, you will get a job.

“The population of our country is so large that many  graduates are without jobs, when will they be able to pay back such loan?

“Such proposal is good but what about very poor people who will not be able to meet up? Can the government do something about them?

“I want to believe the money  is there because we pay taxes in this country. It is for the government to sit down, evaluate the system and see so many things that can be done to assist our universities to put an end to this ASUU strike.

“The strike also is about their earned allowance and the rest. The government  should just do something. Even though they are going to allow the students use the fixed base system, it shouldn’t be so high that the poor masses will not be able to afford it.

“Like we have Catholic universities, we also think of the poor and provide scholarships. Even in Maryland Comprehensive School, every year,  we have scholarships for students and indigent students. We have some people who are also  saying they will like to sponsor this scholarship program for students.“ Because of that, in 2018,  Maryland Comprehensive Secondary School’s WAEC result was 100 per cent.

“When we say 100 per cent, there was no child that came out of this school last year that will say there is one paper that will stop him/or her from moving ahead. That is the type of educational system we need in Nigeria.”