The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) in the South West Zone on Monday honoured Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State him with a Certificate of Commendation. At the same time, they urged his colleagues in other states to emulate his passion for quality education.
The Governor who recently announced a reversal of the school fees in the State University (LASU) to its old structure got the students’ applause for giving them a listening ear and allowing them the chance to contribute their quota to the growth of education by getting proposals from them even when they were engaging the government during the recent students crisis.
The students, represented by their “Senators” from all the higher institutions in the South West Zone, said the Governor struck them as the right leader to turn the country around through the creative way he recognized the import of their arguments that education could be run in a way to encourage both the children of the rich and the poor, without creating classes and division among them.
Receiving the recognition award at the Lagos House, Ikeja, the obviously surprised Governor thanked the students and charged them to always reflect on how the quality of education can be improved.
He gave a commitment that the State Government will solve the problem of quality of education but that the students also have a role to play in proffering solutions since they know where the shoes pinches.
“I am also inquiring from you that how can we improve the quality of education? So that we can begin to plan how to produce our next sets of graduates that would produce our cars, give us electricity, perform heart and kidney surgeries here. It may look so far away but we are so closer to getting out and you are so close to taking over. We need to quickly fill that gap”, he stated.
Explaining the genesis of the LASU issue, the Governor said it was the students who asked for intervention in their school. “All actions have consequences. When you sought the setting up visitation panels, you don’t know what the result would be. What you did not realize is that you were asking outsiders to come. I hope the right lessons have been learnt. For us it is about making things better. You must ask yourself is your method working and if they are not working, are you reflecting on changes?” he said.
According to the Governor, while everyone acknowledges and commends the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo and the free education policy today, many do not reflect on the fact that when he started, it was free education at primary education level that he introduced basically to tackle the problem of high illiteracy that was prevalent in the South West then.
He added that then when the programme was introduced some people especially farmers protested the policy because it will take away their children from the farms, adding that today, the literacy level in Nigeria is above 60 percent which explains that the problem has been solved.
He said the students should reflect on the appropriateness of now using the same medicine of free education of over 50 years ago that was used to tackle high illiteracy to now solve a different problem of the quality of education.
Fashola expressed gladness that the school fees issue has ended in the way it has, which exceeded the expectation of the students adding that it is important to remind everyone of how it all started and that the State Government did not just wake up one day and decided to increase fees in LASU.