2nd June, 2014
Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State says students of the Lagos State Univeristy, LASU, were not against the hike in their school fees going by the position paper presented by the students.
He said what the students were against was the parameters used in calculating the fees, but gave hint that his administration might slash the school fees to make the students happy.
“We are not inflexible; we will make adjustment or amendment where there’s need for better understanding,” he said.
Fashola, who was responding to questions at the weekend said one reason for the increase was that LASU was being regarded as a school for the poor, which the government did not want to accept.
“We felt that there was no convergence of universal learning. We had begun to see LASU as a school only for children of the poor. For me that is a very dangerous thing to do, a university where children of the rich and the poor cannot sit together. The rich are taking their children to private schools; for me that is a time bomb for the future. They may not see it now.
“There were many recommendations made by the panel many of which we accepted. It is the school fees that have become so vexatious as it were. What we have done is that we looked across schools, Federal and State and private schools and tried to stay somewhere in the middle,” the governor explained.
He said government also decided that the new fee was not going to affect sitting students but only new intakes adding that in consideration of qualified but indigent students, Government also increased its budget for scholarships and bursaries from N700 million, to about N1.2 – N1.3 billion “in order to ensure that no child was left behind”.
According to him, the crisis in the school might soon be over as the parties have been holding talks on ways of reaching an agreeable fee regime for the school, assuring the students that the State Executive Council is currently studying their paper to the government on the increase in their school fees, promising that where there is need for adjustment or amendment it would be affected accordingly.
“I have passed it out to the Council. We have told the students that we are not inflexible and where we see the need for adjustment or amendment, we will do it so that they might understand it better,” Fashola reiterated that the increase in fees regime was one of the many recommendations made by a Visitation Panel inaugurated at the instance of the students in a petition to the House of Assembly.
“In the event, the students have come back to me three years after at the instance of their lecturers who are saying that we should reduce the school fees otherwise they would go on strike. But the same lecturers are asking us under ASUU to increase their salaries,” he said.