President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, has warned that 40 to 50 per cent of students will leave school in the next two to three years if the federal government fails to stop the arbitrary increment in school fees by the universities.
Prof Osodeke gave the warning while speaking on the current situation in the education sector in Nigeria on Channels TV Sunday night.
The union leader, who accused universities of arbitrarily increasing school fees, posited that the government should rather be attracting more students to school by its education policies.
“Today, universities are arbitrarily increasing school fees. Is that correct in an environment today where the minimum wage is N30,000 per month when you have to pay rent, pay heavily for transportation and you are enforcing it on the students?
- NIGERIA DAILY: Things Girls Do Just To Get Educated
- BBNaija All-Stars: Journey ends for Venita, Soma, Angel
“If nothing is done about these heavy fees being introduced by schools all over the country, in the next two or three years, more than 40 to 50 per cent of these children who are in school today will drop out,” he said.
Prof Osodeke also warned that the country would be in trouble when its large youthful population are out of school.
He said: “When they drop out, they will become a big feed for recruitment for those who want this country to be ungovernable.
“This is what we are saying, create the environment we have in the 60s and 70s. When I was a student, the government was paying me for being a student. Let’s have an environment where the children of the poor can have access to education.
“School fees of N300,000, how can the children of someone who earns N50,000 a month be able to pay such a fee?”
He called on the government to increase budgetary allocation to education to at least 15 per cent of the total budget sum.
He lamented that the 3.8 per cent allocated to education in the last budget was nothing to write home about, saying with an increase in budget allocation to education, parents would be relieved of the burden of paying high fees for their children.
The union leader punctured the student loan policy of the government, saying there were no signs it would work.
Prof Osodeke said: “When you are talking about student loans, you have to be comprehensive. There is nothing to show that it would work.
“There is a need for a review. Check what happened in the past and see how we can move forward. But for us, our idea is that instead of calling it a loan, let us call it a grant.
“If you look at the conditions, 90 per cent of the students will not have access to that loan. The condition that you must have parents who earn less than N500,000 per annum [is harsh]. How many people earn less than N500,000 per annum?”