The Minister for Education, Professor Rukkayat Rufa’i has stated that Education is still free in Nigeria. The Minister who made the assertion on a national television programme made it clear that the Government is subsidizing the cost of Education.
While trying to justify the monies being charged by government-owned educational institutions across the country, the Minister explained that “the money being charged by the institutions are for services, probably ID cards, hospitals or whatever but nothing to do with fees. Fees have been free, even in universities. So when you talk of fees really, we don’t charge fees, we only charge service fees. Those fees are basically for the system to run in terms of what you do to or offer the students. But Government schools are actually free as far as the situation is concerned.”
Speaking further, the Minister said “it is very difficult now to say that you have free schooling and say that you are after the quality. When you talk of fees, it is virtually free, even though as the poverty level is going deeper and deeper, even the little fees that are charged for the services, they have become very expensive. If you ask the members of the National Assembly, some of them are even paying the little fees that the schools are charging. So, to explain between free or near free and now to have the required standard is where the disconnect really comes and that is what government is now trying to do and I hope people will appreciate.
The Government is struggling to provide this quality environment like in any part of the world but then at the same time subsidizing or allowing people not to pay much in terms of the schooling.”
She also tried to convince students that things would be better in the sector as she disclosed that “the Government under Mr President is really doing great for them, it is working hard day and night to ensure that we have the kind of environment that is required for them. The quality of education that you are always talking about would be created and at the same time, we expect them to play their part. When we had a summit bordering on examinations a year ago, even the students confessed that they have their own problems. So it is a multi-faceted approach that we have to take. The Government assured them that it would do its part, but we expect them, the parents and the community to also do their part to restore the education sector of this country”.