ETINAN—GOVERNOR Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State is alarmed that 907 students of the state’s School of Health Technology, Etinan Local Government Area, have not more than three toilets.
Commissioner for Health, Mr. Dominic Ukpong, who conveyed the governor’s concern to students, last Friday, said the state government would start addressing challenges of main concern in the school soon, starting with the construction of new toilets, extension of classroom blocks and grading of dilapidated roads leading to the school.
Ukpong told them, “One thing that touched the governor most is that a school with 907 students has only three toilets, so very soon, we are building more toilets and also we will be able to extend the classroom blocks.”
Niger Delta Voice, three months ago, reported the students’ protest over lack of infrastructure and increase in their school fees from N36, 000 and N46, 000 to N76, 300 and N81, 300 for indigenes and non-indigenes respectively.
Govt to pay fees for students
He also said, “Because of majority of the students, who are well behaved and those writing their final examinations, the governor has decided to pay fees on behalf of all the students for this academic year. In effect, from next academic year, you will begin to pay the new fees,” he asserted.
Ukpong, however, wondered why the students were agitating against the new fees regime, saying their counterparts across the country, including Calabar, started paying new fees years ago.
He noted that unlike other institutions, the institution has not reviewed its fees since 2008 and appealed to the students to understand that the purpose of the fees’ increase, which is to enable the school management tackle some of the challenges facing the institution , such as organizing matriculation, constant power supply, among others.
His words: “You need to understand that it is from the fees you pay that some of the things you are seeking can be achieved. I wonder why you do not want to pay the fees and have the facilities you need on ground. If you do not want to improve the school, you have not done well.”
Principal commends govt
Responding, the Principal of the School, Mrs. Eme Imerh, commended the state government for the show of interest and concern over the plight, saying, “On behalf of the management, staff and students, I thank the state government for particularly coming to the rescue of this institution. In appreciation, the students will be of good behaviour”.
While majority of the students assured the commissioner that henceforth, they would be of good behaviour and appreciated government’s gestures, few others were not happy that government declined to reverse the increased school fees.
One of them, who refused to give his name, said, “In fact, this is not what I came here to hear. They have said nothing because they did not reverse the school fees. That was the major thing we asked them to do, so I am not interested in whatever they are talking.”