A civil society group, the Education Rights Council (ERC), has called for the immediate re-opening of the Federal College of Agriculture (FCA), Ibadan. The group also called on members of the workers’ and students’ unions at the college to remain steadfast in the struggle for better public education funding.
The college was, on Wednesday, ordered shut by its provost, Dr. Adelekan.
ERC noted that the closure of the college was after its students resolved, at a congress held on Tuesday, to embark on a three-day peaceful mass action scheduled to hold from Wednesday until Friday.
The planned demonstration was to protest the poor welfare conditions in the college as well as the continuous refusal of the college administration to provide students items such as laboratory coats, farm coats, logbooks and identity cards for which they paid at the start of the current academic session.
Aside from the immediate and unconditional re-opening of the college, ERC is also demanding regular supply of water and electricity to residence halls and academic areas, supply of logbooks, laboratory coats and identity cards. The group is also demanding that re-registration of courses for the second semester must free, while the college must ensure re-accreditation of currently unaccredited courses.
In addition, the group called on the government to allocate 26 percent of the yearly budget to education as a way of ensuring adequate funding for public education.
For over six weeks, said ERC, residential halls in the college have had no electricity and water supply. The students, it added, also complained of the decrepit educational facilities, notably laboratories lacking items required for practical equipment. According to the students, many courses in the college are unaccredited, implying that those studying such courses at the Higher National Diploma level will not be allowed to participate in the National Youth Service Corps scheme after their graduation.
Students also claimed that the college administration, headed by Dr. Adelekan, has been fleecing them through the institution’s Information Communication Technology (ICT) Unit. For instance, they explained, all students were recently forced by the ICT unit to pay an additional fee of N600 for the re-registration of courses for the second semester after the sum of N6,600 had already been paid for the same purpose in the first semester.
Despite pleas by the leadership of the students’ union for an alleviation of the problems, the college administration turned a deaf ear, a situation the students’ union said compelled it to convene a congress of the entire students in the college where they resolved to embark on peaceful protest to express their displeasure.
According to the ERC, the approach of the college management was undemocratic. The group also urged the leadership of the students’ union not to be deterred.
“Rather, the leadership of the students’ union should seize the opportunity of the period of the forced holiday to commence a serious media campaign with a view to building public sympathy and support for their demands. It is our belief in ERC, that behind the poor welfare conditions and other related ones being faced by students is the question of underfunding or poor funding of the college side by side corruption and mismanagement,” said the group.
It called on the students’ union leadership to link all demands to the need for proper and adequate funding of the public education. To achieve this, the ERC said, workers and students’ union in the college must remain united in their demands, which must include a financial audit of the institution and profile of its provost other members of management.