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Kaduna govt can no longer fund education at tertiary level alone – El-Rufai

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The Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, on Saturday, said the state government will not reverse the increase in tertiary institutions’ tuition fees.

This is because the government can no longer fund education at that level alone, Mr El-Rufai said.

The governor stated this in a speech he delivered at the Combined Fourth Convocation of the Kaduna State University (KASU) held at the Tafawa Balewa Way Main Campus of the state-owned university.

University students in June protested against the tuition fees increment, saying it will block the chances of many indigent students studying to the university level.

The university had hiked its tuition fees to between N300,000 and N400,000 from N36,000.

During the convocation, Mr El-Rufai said the state needs an innovative mix of financing sources for tertiary education. He said that guided the State Executive Council in approving new tuition fees for all the state-owned tertiary institutions.

“This was met by considerable resistance by many parents and students who are used to paying less than N30,000 per session in KASU. We understand this attachment to the tuition fees that KASU has charged since inception in 2004, impervious to inflation and the exchange rate, and certainly not based on any notion of cost recovery,” the governor stated.

Mr El-Rufai said he would “eagerly support free education at the tertiary level if we are convinced that government can consistently provide the investments needed to deliver quality tertiary education”.

“We are no longer in the 1960s, 70s or 80s when the government practically delivered free tertiary education. We know that governments now have severe resource constraints, apart from having many more students to cater for.

“So while the government guarantees free education for the first 12 years of education, up to the end of SS3, it has to adopt other options for funding tertiary education,” the governor said.

“The economic situation and the financial resources available to the government require that the government, parents and students come together to fund tertiary education. The government pleads for the understanding of parents and students to make this partnership work,” Mr El-Rufai said.

The governor said the state government was taking steps to support KASU to become a stronger university. “The state government is developing a new permanent site for the main campus in Rigachikun.”

Also, Mr El-Rufai said in the 2020 fiscal year, the state spent almost N5 billion on personnel costs and other recurrent expenses of KASU. That is besides the N10 billion capital budget for KASU in 2020, he said.

“This level of investment is evidence that the government is committed to raising the quality of learning in our tertiary institutions. As institutions charged with developing high-level manpower, our universities and other tertiary institutions must themselves be and be seen to be exemplars of quality and excellence.

“Some of our first generation universities were proudly world class in the 1960s, 1970s and the 1980s. A return to such standards is vital to restoring our country’s ability to be globally competitive and its ability to generate the economic and social momentum required to banish poverty and improve the life chances of our people.

“Therefore, it is vital to address the relevance of the curriculum of our tertiary institutions to modern requirements in the economy and society, the production of those who train the needed high-level manpower and the devises for ensuring that education actually imparts knowledge and cultivates rigorous habits of thinking, rather than provision of mere certificates.

“None of these aspirations can be achieved by wishful thinking. Quality tertiary education requires significant investments, and this can no longer be solely or mainly provided by the government. We need to admit that government funding can no longer come consistently at the levels that helped our first generation universities establish their global standings.

“In this partnership, the Kaduna State Government is providing scholarships and students loans through the Kaduna State Scholarship and Loans Board. This government is determined to ensure that no willing student drops out of school solely for financial reasons. Let us all approach this matter with goodwill and careful attention to preserve the access of the poor to tertiary education,” Mr El-Rufai said

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