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Education Should Not Be Free — UNILAG Don

I am totally against Free Education because Education should not be free. Those are the word of a Professor of Science and Technology Education, University of Lagos, Duro Ajeyalemi, while giving reasons why the country needs to reform its education sector. All these were said in an interview with PunchNG’s ARUKAINO UMUKORO.

Read excerpts from the interview below (Questions are in bold and His answers in normal text):

Professor Duro Ajeyalemi

Despite the poor state of education in the country, Nigerian students have been known to perform excellently in other climes. What do you think is responsible for this?

This is because the conditions in these other countries are much better and allow for more competition. Here in Nigeria, the learning environment is very poor.  Look at our hostels. With about 12 students living in a room, how will they be able to study effectively? The classrooms are also overcrowded and don’t have enough furniture. But when these students go abroad, all these things are provided. So, they settle down more easily and realise that they have to do well to return home and become somebody. But here, there are no incentives.

People take free education, just like anything that is free, for granted. When you pay for something you will value it. We should stop politicising education by saying it should be free. If students are contributing something, it will cover some of the gaps that the government cannot adequately fund.

Are you against a free education system?

I am totally against it.  I have been saying this for years, it is counter-productive. Our economic situation will continue to be like this. If education is not free, it will ensure that we have quality education and adequate funds to provide what is necessary and reward the teachers adequately. But when government says it wants to shoulder everything, it is unrealistic and can never work. Let people pay for what they are consuming. People are able to pay for nursery, primary and secondary education. Yet, they do not want to pay at the tertiary level, which is more capital intensive. For those who cannot afford it, let the local and state government make provisions for them from the money they are stealing. The Federal Government had a system where students could take loans which will be later repaid. We tried it in this country some time ago, but it stopped because they said some of the students were not paying back. But if we put discipline into the system, those who take money will pay. You can’t have your cake and eat it.

We should find a way to cater for those who are not able to pay for education. Nigerians send their children abroad and pay for their education. We should be realistic about this; education cannot be free if you want to have quality. A state of emergency should be declared in the education sector. (Read full interview here)

I don’t know what you think but I think it would be a shame if this kind of person has benefited from Education that we are made to believe was FREE in the past. Education should at least be free at the primary level so that everyone, irrespective of financial status would have access to the basic education.

His statement reminded me of that made by the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Julius Okogie, that one of the problems ASUU is having is that Tuition paid in Nigerian Universities are too low. We informed you about that then in our Latest ASUU Updates.

It is really very clear the plans our leaders have for us.

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