The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) has called for freedom and justice for the Nigerian students as the world marks this year’s Day of the African Child.
In a press release jointly signed by the National Coordinator, Hassan Soweto and the National Secretary, Omole Ibukun, the group called for free, functional and democratically-managed public education at all levels.
EduCeleb.com recalls that Day of the African Child has been marked annually since 1991 in commemoration of the 16th June, 1976 Soweto massacre when school students were gunned down by the then repressive South Africa’s apartheid regime.
The ERC said it was commemorating the historic event, “especially because it contains great lessons for Nigeria”.
It hammered on the disturbingly increasing rate of disrespect to democratic rights and freedom of speech and association of Nigerian students especially in tertiary institutions across the country.
That was with reference to the violation of students’ rights in certain tertiary institutions, particularly that of “politically victimised” like, Omole Ibukun and Kunle Adebajo to drive home the point.
“But without respect of democratic rights, freedom of speech and association, the goal of education will not be achieved. This is why the ERC also use this occasion to demand the immediate and unconditional reinstatement of all politically victimised students in tertiary institutions across Nigeria particularly Omole Ibukun and others at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Kunle Adebajo of the University of Ibadan who was suspended for writing an article on Facebook.
“We also demand restoration of banned students and workers unions, a firm policy against sexism and respect of democratic rights on campuses,” the group said.
It also deplored the meagre allocation to education in the 2018 budget at both federal and state levels and demanded for an immediate upward review of the percentage allocated to education to meet up with global standard.
The group identified that the underfunding of education has led to difficulties for parents as “they are being heavily exploited without check.”
“Instead of protesting the underfunding of education, managements of schools have resorted to squeezing dry the pockets of poor Nigerians.
“Students who witnessed their colleagues dropping out of school due to previous increments have taken to protesting these inconsiderate policies of education administrators but they have been met by brutal repression,” the statement read.
It also criticised the “abuse” of students’ rights at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife through the ban of Students’ Union and eviction of students who hitherto resided on the campus hostels.
“Following this gross abuse of human and democratic rights of students, the management of the institution has intensified its anti-students’ policies – around 70% of the student population were recently evicted from the University hostels without any plan to expand the hostel facilities on the campus.”
The group did not leave out its concern for the Nigerian children who are out of school as it challenged the authorities to do more to reduce such children on the streets.