ASUU advocates free education from primary to tertiary level

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…Says union will continue to champion the course of education in Nigeria.

The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, has advocated that education should be a public good that should not be meant for sale, adding that it should be free and be made compulsory at all stages from primary level to adult education.

The declaration was made on Friday, during a symposium organised by the Academic Staff Union of Universities and Civil Societies and Civil Societies Committee, tagged: “The Role of ASUU in the Rescue of Public Education in Nigeria,” facilitated by Workers Education and Civil Society Liaison Committee (WECSLC), held at the lecture theatre, Faculty of Art, the University of Ibadan.

While delivering his lecture, National Treasurer of the union, Prof. Olusiji Sowande said there was an urgent need for stakeholders to rescue the nation’s education sector.He noted that “despite primary education being officially free and compulsory, it has been reported that 10.5 million of the country’s children aged 5-14 years are not in school.”

Prof. Sowande maintained: “The union loves our country, and the people of Nigeria and ready to ensure that education stands as a right according to the Nigerian constitution and as such, ASUU will continue in its patriotic struggle for adequate funding of education considering the fact that Education as a public good should not be for sale.”

In another presentation, the former Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration) of the University of Ibadan, Professor Ambrose Ayelari in his presentation stated that the goals of Nigerian education are to build a free and democratic society, a united, strong, and self-reliant nation, a great and dynamic economy and a land full of opportunities for all citizens.

Thus the philosophy of education is based on the development of the individual into a sound and effective citizen, the full integration of the individual into the community and the provision of equal access to educational opportunities for all citizens of the country at primary, secondary and tertiary levels,” he said.

Professor Ayelari added: ‘There are 170 Universities in Nigeria comprising 79 Private, 43 Federal and State 48 as at January 2021 (NUC), and that in the same way, there are a total of 152 Polytechnics in Nigeria comprising 37 Federal, 51 State and 64 Privately owned Polytechnics.”

In 2021, over 600,000 candidates were found eligible for admission out of 1, 351,215 candidates that sat for the examination. The question is will the 170 Universities and 152 Polytechnics be able to absorb all the 600,000 eligible candidates?”

Commenting on struggles by the union towards the growth of education in Nigeria, the former DVC recalled that it was the agitations by ASUU that resulted in the creation of TETFUND, saying: “Education Trust (ETF) Fund now Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) was established as an intervention Agency by education Tax Act No. 7 established in 1993 as amended by the Act No 40 of 1998 (now repealed and replaced with Tertiary Education Trust Fund Act 2011).”

“It emanated from one of the struggles of ASUU in which they requested that the Fund must be instituted. Education Tax Fund is a tax chargeable on all companies registered in Nigeria at chargeable profits as a contribution to the Education Tax Fund. The tax is 2% for all registered companies in Nigeria.

TETFund scheme was established to disburse, manage and monitor education tax to government-owned tertiary institutions in Nigeria.”Speaking at the symposium, the representative of the Dean of Faculty of Arts, University of Ibadan emphasized that there is a need for ASUU and other stakeholders in the education sector to rescue public education in the country from bondage.In his opening remark, Prof. Ambrose Emilolorun, noted that the problem confronting public education needed to be confronted so that the schools can give their best to the students.

He identified some of the problems as inadequate funding, inadequate professional teachers, inadequate infrastructural facilities, lack of data, corruption, and insecurity.He pointed out that those who see ASUU’s struggle over the years as selfish are uninformed, noting that was why the union kept asking for enough funding for the education sector Emilolorun said that ASUU will continue to do what is best for the union, the students, and the university system at large.

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