terça-feira, fevereiro 02, 2010

Nigeria: students protest hike in tuition fees

Academic activities at Ebonyi State University (EBSU) were partially paralysed yesterday following peaceful demonstration by the students, mostly non-indigenes to press home their grievances over the disparity in the recent increment in school fees of indigenes and non-indigenes.

The students numbering over 2.000 took to the streets of Abakaliki, the state capital and marched from their permanent site to the College of Agricultural Sciences (CAS) campus which harbours the administrative headquarters of the university, as they chanted war songs.

The protesting students also complained of high price of private hostel accommodation in town due to non-residential system of the university, insecurity of students, inadequate social amenities in the school and alleged government interference with the activities of the Students Union.

Placards carried by the students had inscriptions such as, "say no to 10 per cent reduction in EBSU school fees", "share it 50-50", "reduce the school fees now", "say no to discrimination in EBSU" among others alleged that the school management recently increased the school fees from N19, 000 to N80, 000 for non-indigenes and N19, 000 to N60, 000 for indigenes.

Continue to read the text...The protest that started in the earlier hours saw the students blocking most of the major roads leading to the university main campus, Ezzamgbo, disrupting the on-going examination at the main campus before marching to the other campuses in the state.

At Ishieke and the College of Agricultural Sciences (CAS) campus of the institution, the students disrupted commercial activities in the area forcing most shops and filling stations to close their business premises while commercial and private vehicles near the area deserted the streets temporarily as the students were carrying logs, fresh leaves and chanting war songs.

The students described as unfortunate the recent increment in view of the economic hardship in the country regretting that the increment is so exorbitant that most parents are left with no option than to withdraw their wards from the school.

Some of the students who spoke to the Daily Champion on condition of anonymity criticised the disparity in the school fees of non-indigenes and indigenes urging the state government to reduce the increment and make the school fees uniform.

"The school authorities can not go on and increase school fees without the provision of necessary facilities that are expected to be in a higher institution. It is so unfortunate that the school does not have a single hostel, no toilet facilities; we don't even have good drinking water in the school. Now that the school fees have been increased, we expect them at least to reduce the fees and make it affordable for parents".

"The authorities should also use the proceeds to build hostels and provide other amenities in the school. This would generate fund for the school rather than increasing school fees. We call on the state government to look into our plight as most of us; our parents cannot afford N80, 000 every semester".

When our reporter placed a call to the Public Relations Officer of the university (PRO), Mr. Larry Udu his telephone rang out. However, the Personal Assistant to the State Governor on Higher Education, Prof. Mike Otuma when contacted said the State government was shocked over the protest noting that after due consultation with the students union, the school management and the state government, the school fees was recently reduced by 10 per cent.

He urged the students to always embrace dialogue in resolving issues with the school management adding that the state would also invite the leadership of the students' union body and the school management to further dialogue on the issues.

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