The pains of pupillage in Nigerian tertiary institutions


By Sanni Kay. Yusuf
Nigeria, inhabited mostly by the downtrodden (people who eat from hand to mouth, feeding on a meal greatly lesser than $1; people who enjoy no balanced diets because what is available is what is eatable etc.) is tortuously agonised by its education system – from primary to tertiary. 

Acceptance fee before tuition to access tertiary education is not only cruel but inhumanly pauperizing. I stand challenged by any varsity academic on this. What rational rationale or justification can be adduced for such an extortionist style of revenue generation? I would not even mind a rejoinder to this piece by the leadership of any Nigerian university, polytechnic or college of education. It pains that the abnormality and irrationality has been deeply rooted in us that no one seems wakening to the draconian exploitation. 

Acceptance fee is charged as exorbitant as #40,000 or relatively lesser or even higher. Aside federal higher institutions, tuition is as unaffordably costly as #80,000 or relatively lesser or even higher. That is having charged #5,000 or relatively lesser or higher for post UTME. Why not sum up the acceptance and the tuition fees to make the payment #120,000? 

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#120,000 added to UTME charge, departmental dues (whose summation may be to the tune of #10,000 or relatively lesser or even more) and tenement rate (in the school hostel or off campus) is apparently a lot of money for an average Nigerian parent, aside the well-to-do who will rather prefer getting his child schooled abroad or in a private institution. Innumerable brains have therefore, been deprived of varsity education on account of their parents’ financial impotence. Numberless gurus have dropped out because their sponsors could not further the payment they had initially shouldered. Incalculable students are not giving their gifted best because they fend for themselves. While others are studying, they are under the sun labouring to gather some cash to pay their fees. It pains that Nigeria has lost many to this anathema.
When the last-incumbent of Lagos State, now minister of three-in-one astronomically and complacently increased LASU’s school fee from #25,000 to #250,000, many students dropped out of school instantaneously. Two of my cousins who were offered admission that year were asked by their father to make a u-turn due to financial inability. #500,000 at a go was extremely beyond his purse. So they had to put in for another UTME choosing another university whose monetary requirement was relatively affordable.  Babatunde Fashola, my favourite governor to date offended me and was never forgiven until the harsh decision was reluctantly rescinded prior to the 2015 gubernatorial election.

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Lecturers who are supposed to be models make pupillage hell-like for students. That they are underpaid by their employer(s) shouldn’t be a factor to further pauperise the poor Nigerian students. Write books and sell to students like honourable authors do. Why obligate handouts at a costly rate on students? Some uncivilised ones even use that as a yardstick to pass or fail students. What callousness! What barbarism! This is by no means discouraging students to buy or read books. Any student yarning to be a celebrated professional must be a buyer and reader of books no matter how financially incapable or incapacitated he is. A potential pundit should build his library right from school. 
Getting admission into the Nigerian higher institutions doesn’t come without its accompanying pains, signing out is also accompanied by its underlying agonies. There may be nothing wrong with clearance charge(s). But why is it always on the high side? To come in is hell; to go out is hell, hence the pains of pupillage in Nigerian higher institutions.

Sanni writes from Lagos

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