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28 Dec 2016

Students’ Welfare: The Role Of Government, School And Students – Alfred Olufemi


SUBMITTED BY : Alfred Olufemi

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”- Nelson Mandela


Have you ever wondered the reason behind the huge difference in standard of living, infrastructural development as well as technological advancement between developed nations and developing nations? Could it be climate or the geographical location of countries that gives some the upper hand over the others? .

Take for example the apparent disproportionate standard of life between the Southern and Northern hemisphere of Korea. While the one is buoyant and self sufficient, the other is impoverished and import dependent. According to statistics realized from the Korean herald newspaper, over 98% of the South Korean population is literate. This in addition to the fact that the government allocates more than 22% of its budget to the education sector regularly as well as a provision of educational stimulus packages such as bursary grants and scholarships aimed at stimulating public interest in education.

Contracting the expanding circle, it’s plausible to examine the microcosm of the macrocosm by examining Africa as a continent and especially focusing on the western part. In consideration of Africa as a continent, it can be argued that Northern and Western Africa are more developed than the East and South but despite this, the level of development in these parts cannot even be seriously compared with the level of development of European countries such as France, Britain, Italy, Germany etc despite most African countries having a significant amount of natural resources than most western nations. I can categorically state that Africa is the most natural resourced continent and yet it is about the poorest. What can be responsible? I will say it’s because they lack the sustaining secret of the south Koreans- education.

The above analysis is for a prior knowledge, which will help in tackling the stated theme. Having known the importance of education in the growth of a country, it is expedient to forge ahead on the need for student’s welfare and the roles of the government, school management and students as a way of achieving a level playing field for education. The synergy between the aforementioned forces will be elucidated hierarchically using Nigeria as a yard stick.

Firstly, the ideologies of a country determine the altitude of her students’ welfarism. Considering the standard of living and the per capital income of an average Nigerian, quality education can only be affordable to a few rich individuals. This is where the government comes in. There are thousands of indigent students, who are now dropouts because of their inability to afford tertiary education. Unlike the western world, third world countries expend little on student’s welfarism. According to a publication from the Daily trust, Nigeria spends just 6.1% (both federal and state) of her budget on the education sector.

It’s safe to add another variable to the equation, and that is leadership. Many of our leaders were beneficiaries of the student’s welfare scheme for schools in the 80s, particularly in the western region of Nigeria pioneered by the then premier of the region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Many were able to go to school paying little or nothing and many even enjoyed scholarships for further studies abroad. Students of that era were given school uniforms, textbooks and writing materials for free, alongside sumptuous meals for tertiary institutions students, little wonder why the Nigeria of then was far better than the Nigeria of today. I’m not aware of any federal government scholarship program, if there’s any, the modalities for the award of such would likely be sketchy, the slots for the scholarship would likely be the exclusive reserve of the children of well connected individuals of the society and not open to the children of the hoi polloi.

However, another complicit factor in the deplorable welfare of students is the tertiary institutions themselves. Despite the fact that billions is given as grants to these institutions per year especially the federal government owned ones and many more millions generated by these institutions inform of acceptance fees, post utme screening forms and result checker, late registration fees etc, the facilities and amenities in some of these institutions is nothing to write home about. The class rooms are inadequate, the laboratories are ill equipped and desolate and the hostels in some schools are more like a mini prison facility. The only explanation for these is that some varsity administrators are guilty of misappropriation of funds meant to be channeled into the provision of facilities and amenities for the convenience of the students. If this trend further, what is the fate of students?

Recently, hike in fees has become the norm among institutions around the country. In a situation, whereby students were struggling with the payment of the formerly stipulated fees, certainly hiking the fees cannot be the way forward especially considering the fact that all hands are not equal and hike in fees is a conflagration of the UN charter of which Nigeria is a signatory which identifies education as the right of the Nigerian child. School managerial bodies are expected to look into this and retrace steps where necessary.

Penultimately, coming down to the final consumer of the welfare schemes, which is the individual student. It behooves me to assert that they also have their own role and responsibility in this matter. Facilities around the school both in the living quarters and the offices and lecture areas need to be treated with utmost care knowing the response rate of management towards repairing obsolete equipment and materials is so poor.

Finally, responsibility is the soul of success; it will be illogical to blame our inability to complete a formal training on the government or the environment. Proper investment of time and their little resources into profitable ventures and entrepreneurial skills will grant them headway financially. The Holy Bible says that “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man… 1 Cor 10:13”. No matter the challenges towards getting quality education you may face, someone else has faced such before and weathered the storm successfully.

Conclusively, having considered roles of the government, school management and the students on promoting the students welfare, it’s now a knowledge, whose practicalization is urgent. Education and economic development are intricately linked and conforms to the adage “what you sow, you reap” meaning the more investment in quality education the more development that will be reaped.



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