SERAP urges Fashola cancel new fees in LASU
A civil society, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State to “urgently reverse the increased tuition fees for the students of Lagos State University (LASU) as we consider this to be manifestly unfair, unjust, discriminatory and retrogressive.”
Under the new fee regime, medical students are expected to pay N348,750, including accommodation cost of N60,000. Students in the arts and education faculty will pay N193,750. faculty of social science students are expected to pay N223,750. Law students will pay N248,750, engineering students N298,750, and science students N258,750. Students in the communications faculty will pay N238,750. Students were paying N25,000 as tuition before the increases.
The organization asked the governor to “use your good offices and leadership to ensure and guarantee that no LASU students will be denied access to education because they cannot pay the increased fees.”
The letter dated 4 April 2014 and signed by the group’s executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni stated that “By reversing the tuition fees, your government will be demonstrating its sacred duty to promote equality in the society, and showing respect for international law requiring states to move towards free higher education when setting fees policy.”
The group also asked the governor to “establish a fellowship system that would enhance equality of educational access for students from disadvantaged groups.”
The group expressed concerns that “increased fees limit access to education for students from disadvantaged backgrounds and directly violate the right to education. If the fees are allowed to stand, society as a whole will suffer.”
“We believe that next in importance to freedom and justice is access to quality education, without which neither freedom nor justice can be maintained. The increased tuition fees have constituted a disincentive to poorer students attending LASU, because we continue to receive reports of decreasing level of enrolment to the school due primarily to the increased fees,” the group added.
According to the group, “We believe that the increased tuition fees discriminate against poorer students. As most students wishing to attend LASU cannot do so on the grounds of their economic and social conditions, their right of access to education is clearly being severely curtailed, if not extinguished. A hike in fees cannot be in the best interests of the child, which is a fundamental principle entrenched in international law, in particular, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Nigeria has ratified.”
“The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to which Nigeria is a state party provides that, “Higher education shall be made equally accessible to all on the basis of capacity, by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education,” the group added.
According to the group, “The covenant thus requires all states to introduce progressively free university education – in all subjects and at postgraduate level as well. The right to education is a serious matter concerning the quality and dignity of life, not products on a commodity market. We believe that education should not be considered a commodity and students are not consumers in a supermarket choosing which can of knowledge will attract the most wealth.”
“Education aims to provide the child with life skills, strengthen the child’s capacity to enjoy the full range of human rights and promote a culture which is infused by appropriate human rights values. Non-discrimination and economic accessibility mean that education must be accessible to all, especially the most disadvantaged students. Progressive introduction of free education means that while States must prioritize the provision of free primary education, they also have an obligation to take concrete steps towards achieving free secondary and higher education,” the group also stated.
The group also quoted the UN committee that oversees the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights as stating that, “Education is both a human right in itself and an indispensable means of realising other human rights.” The committee emphasises the vital role education plays in empowering those groups and individuals who are vulnerable and susceptible to exploitation.”
Students under the aegis of National Association of Nigeria Students also last week protested the fee regime in the state owned university.