It is often said that education is the bedrock of an individual’s or societal growth and development; An uneducated society is one where ineptitude and mediocrity, their negative effects such as inefficiency, low level of development, corruption, etc. thrive.
Little wonder that the most industrialised or developed nations in the world today have very high literacy levels among their citizens and such nations devote huge sums of money yearly to the development of education and by extension to the society. This much cannot be said of what obtains in Nigeria, as the government does the direct opposite, where very little or no attention is given to the educational development of the citizenry. Scant attention is given to tertiary education by successive governments in the country and this has impacted negatively on the society. With the cost of tertiary education ever rising due to this neglect, the problems experienced by the society as a result have continued to increase.
Eight years ago, it takes, on the average, less than ₦15,000 to pay one’s way through a course of study of four years in a university, and even less in polytechnics or colleges of education. This amount includes tuition and accommodation fees and other faculty and departmental charges. These days, ₦15,000 cannot even cover the tuition fee for a year of study in any university or polytechnic. Added to this is the high cost of books and other educational materials needed. Students can hardly buy the needed textbooks as a textbook might go for as high as ₦10,000. Recently, students in some universities protested the astronomical increase in their accommodation fees, yet these increases persisted.
To run a master’s programme in universities these days, a lot of money is needed. Some master’s courses go for as high as ₦300,000 or more.
A major setback of the rising cost of tertiary education in Nigeria is that it increases the illiteracy level in the society.
As more and more people find it difficult to pay exorbitant school fees and buy costly books, there has been an increase in the rate of drop outs from these schools. The rising cost of tertiary education in the country has also greatly affected the quality of teaching and learning in these schools. This high cost of financing tertiary education has led to both teachers and learners cutting corners, which has given rise to the pass-at-all-cost syndrome.
Another negative effect of this is that it further creates a gulf between the rich and the poor. More and more students from poor homes are having to stop school after their secondary school education while the rich can easily afford to send their children to these schools. This is not good for any society as it creates suspicion and envy among the populace, which will hamper societal growth and development. Unlike in the past, the crime rate among students in institutions of higher learning has reached an alarming level, and this had been linked with the rising cost in tertiary education. Every day, we hear of cases of undergraduate robbery gangs, prostitution rings and cult groups, all out to make the extra naira to help them towards their education. I believe that this rise and its attendant negative effects can be checked if government at all levels and stakeholders in the educational sector are sincere enough to address the situation.
First, government must check the indiscriminate and arbitrary fee increases in institutions of higher learning. This will help reduce the burden on students and parents. The government must remove schools fees and other charges from tertiary institutions. If that is not possible, government should subsidize such fees to make them affordable. Also, local and state governments should give as many scholarship offers as possible to its brilliant and promising indigenes.
The government should also devote enough fund in the yearly budget to the improvement of infrastructure in tertiary institutions. If adequate and well equipped libraries and laboratories are provided in these institutions the financial burden on the students in the area of purchase of books and needed tools will be reduced.
In conclusion, it is hoped that necessary steps will be taken by all concerned to stem the tide of the rising cost of tertiary education in Nigeria and its negative effect, because a well-trained citizen makes for an improved and better society.