Replace loan with grants for indigent students, ASUU advises FG

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The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has urged the Federal Government to reverse its decision on the student loan system in favour of grants.

Comrade Lazarus Maigoro, Zonal Coordinator of ASUU Bauchi Zone, made the call yesterday at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, during the awarding of annual indigent scholarships to 19 university undergraduates in the zone. Maigoro urged well-meaning Nigerians to help impoverished students by supplementing what ASUU is doing.

His words: “For this year, ASUU Bauchi zone is giving 19 indigent students scholarship apart from the 12 already awarded by ASUU national in the six universities that constitute Bauchi zone,” he said, adding, “This will further assist more indigent students to be able to acquire university education.”

He expressed delight that the 2023 scholarship was celebrated in Bauchi zone of ASUU.

“ASUU has earmarked November 12 of every year as “Heroes Day” to celebrate members of the union who have made heavy sacrifices while serving the union.

“In fact, some of them, like the late Festus Iyayi of University of Benin, David Jangkam of the University of Jos and many others died while on ASUU assignments while others like Prof Suleiman Abubakar of ATBU were recognized as living heroes for their contributions to the union.

“This year’s (2023) event was celebrated at the Union’s National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Kaduna. At the event, the national body of our union awarded the sum of N200, 000 to two indigent students in all the public universities in Nigeria while branches on their own too awarded scholarships to other indigent students in their various universities apart from that of the national.

“It is based on this reason that the entire leadership and the awardees of both the national and the branch recipients of the scholarship award are gathered here to replicate what was done in Kaduna State University during the Heroes Day on 12th November, 2023.”

He said ASUU was aware of the predicament of the indigent students who are sometimes prevented from writing examinations on the basis of not being able to pay their school fees/charges as the case may be, thereby truncating their future.

“It is worthy to note that many students have dropped out of school due to the inability of their parents to pay their school fees or charges,” he lamented.

“This indigent student’s scholarship funded solely by ASUU at the national level or branch level has continued to support students towards the attainment of their educational objectives.

“I can authoritatively say without mincing words that as we teach these students in the classroom, we notice quite a number who are distressed due to the very harsh economic realities of our country,

“It is for this reason that ASUU totally rejects the idea of the student’s loan but supports students grant which should not be paid back.

“The question is, who will pay the loan? What is the fate of those who cannot service it? The psychological trauma the students will be subjected to due to the loan while studying will affect their performance negatively.

“The thought that they will graduate with a loan of N4 million without the capacity to pay back is another psychological torture on them.

“Furthermore, those who cannot access the loan due to the stringent conditions attached virtually means dropping out of school.

“Currently, in view of the hike in school fees or charges in public universities all over the country, many students have not been able to resume.”