• Monday, July 15, 2024
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BusinessDay

Education can’t be free, Fashola tells students

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 Lagos State governor, Babatunde Fashola, on Thursday declared that education in Lagos cannot be free. But he was quick to add that his government makes provision annually in the budget to assist indigent students in different tertiary institutions within and outside Lagos, in their pursuit of academic fulfillment, through scholarships and bursary.

He said his administration has made a provision of N1.5 billion in this year’s budget to fund research in state-owned higher institutions, and that members of the academia were free to apply. He also said government is investing massively in building enduring infrastructure at LASU under the 50-year rolling plan to turn the school around.

Fashola was reacting to a demand by students in the state who gathered at the auditorium of Lagos State University (LASU) main campus Ojo, where the governor chose as the venue to mark his 2,200 days in office. It has become a tradition for the administration to gather different groups of people to present report of progress and achievements recorded every 100 days.

The 2,200 days event was dedicated to students from various state-owned tertiary institutions including LASU, Lagos State Polytechnic, Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, LASUTH College of Medicine among others.

Students who took their turns to ask Governor Fashola questions on his performance, zeroed in on the astronomical increase in tuition payable by students in LASU, and eventually burst into a song in which they demanded free education in the state.

It would be recalled that the Fashola government last year approved an increase in tuition at LASU to between N300,000 and N195,000 per annum for science and art courses, respectively. Before the increase, the minimum fee at LASU was said to be N25,000. The increase had sparked off a series of protests by the students who considered it as a way of closing the door against students from poor financial background. The protests and subsequent public hearing by the state House of Assembly on the issue notwithstanding, the government stuck to its gun.

But trying to justify the fee increase in his response, Fashola said he does not want to run a university where only the poor are students. “Any university where only the poor can send their students is no university,” adding that “the poor are already disadvantaged” and having them in school where the academic quality is not worth the while, meant further mortgaging their future. Insisting there can be no free education anywhere, he said an average university student in the UK pays about 9,000 pounds per annum.