When in December 2017, the Governor of Ondo State, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu announced to a large audience during a convocation ceremony of the Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba Akoko (AAUA), his intention to increase the tuition fee of the school, many were baffled at the sudden declaration, while others greeted the news with mixed feelings.
He said: “The tuition fee of Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba Akoko was not worthy or capable of purchasing a pair of shoe.”
Hence his decision to increase the tuition fee, as well as to boost the state’s economy. Obviously, it was shocking news to both the students and parents at large.
It was an impromptu announcement, which led to the convening of a stakeholders’ meeting between parents of the students, the school management, the governor and students themselves.
At the forum, it was debated, the amount to be paid and by how many per cent should the fee be increased. Although the meeting was inconclusive, it still came as a bombshell when the new school fee was announced with an increase of over 70 per cent of the former payment, or how do you explain the feasibility of a fee hike from a maximum of N35,000 former payment to a new minimum of N100,000.
Consequently, the students protested against the “unfortunate development.” They expressed their displeasure against the state government’s decision. It was concluded that a half-payment per semester agreement be put in place.
But one continues to wonder if this method is a feasible remedy to the economic plight of hundreds of thousands in a state where most parents earn and live on nothing close to a hundred thousand naira.
This is no thanks to the school management’s decision of ‘no school fee, no exam’ policy, as well as the fixed payment of the new tuition fee throughout the years of students in the institution, with no reduction regardless of the level you are.
Having a new “bogus” school fee to also take care of the state’s economy is a good and welcome development.
However, it should go beyond a rash decision, sudden declaration and forceful implementation; neither does the excuse that the former fee is low when compared to what other institutions in the same state are paying justify this act.
Rather, a better approach could be used by the government and the school management at large, to coax the students and parents to reason with them.
While I appreciate the frustration of the students in the face of this ugly event, I urge them to be civil while they register their displeasure.
Furthermore, a more strategic approach to reducing the exorbitant fee can be taken, as an increase of about 50 per cent will still go a long way in enriching the state’s economy. This will also be affordable to the parents.
Meanwhile, the government and the school management should intensify efforts to bring the tense atmosphere in the institution under control, instead of degenerating into a bloody fracas because any violent demonstration at this period is surely an ill wind that will blow no good to both the “Sunshine State” and AAUA itself.
learnt for the benefit of mankind.