The Federal Government yesterday debunked claims by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) that it was planning to impose a yearly N350,000 tuition on students in public universities.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Mr. Sonny Echono, who denied the plan at a symposium to mark the World Teachers' Day in Abuja, disclosed that unqualified teachers would be flushed out of the system by 2020.He insisted that public tertiary institutions remain tuition-free, adding that the current administration had not contemplated introducing fees or approved the alleged humongous charges.
Echono, however, confirmed plans to re-establish Education Bank, which he noted would serve not just for the purpose of students' loans but also provide resources for private sector operatives intervening in the sector.
The Ibadan Zonal Coordinator of ASUU, Dr. Ade Adejumo, who raised the concerns about fee hike, had told newsmen that the union’s objection allegedly led to the collapse of the 2017/2018 renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement.
But the permanent secretary, who represented the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu at the event, said: "Ordinarily, we would not have responded to it (the allegation) but because ASUU is a very responsible organisation and have been our partners, it is better that we correct the impression.
"The Federal Government did not and has no intention of introducing tuition in our universities, not to even mention a humongous figure of N350,000."This can easily be verified. The students have just registered for school and their parents are aware of how much they paid.”
He continued: "What is true is the commitment of the present administration to guarantee the right of the Nigerian child not only to education, but also to be positively engaged. Consequently, the president directed that the ministry along with the Ministry of Finance should jointly organise a workshop that would come up with sustainable and very workable recommendations on funding education in Nigeria."To this end, we have been engaging with various stakeholders, including ASUU, which has come up with very useful contributions.”