Ambode’s midas touch gets Lagos varsity students’ hostels
For many students, attending higher institutions is a different ball game in their quest for education. It is at that time most of them leave home for the first time, having to depend on themselves; away from doting parents or wards. It is when they start getting faced with and making decisions concerning not only their academics, but also other issues such as accommodation, clothing, feeding and even leisure.
That shelter is a basic need was established ever since early men sought refuge in caves. And as time has progressed, housing has assumed a more sophisticated role in society. Currently, for many students in public higher institutions in the country, accommodation is a major hurdle.
The pioneering Nigerian university students did not have such challenge regarding accommodation. Students in the 60s, 70s and even 80s did not have hassles securing school-operated hostels at that time.
However, beginning from the 90s, when students’ enrolment in the country’s tertiary institutions soared beyond existing facilities, the decline of higher education started. Student accommodation too was hit.
Towards revamping the schools, both the federal and state governments, had to prioritise their investments in education.
And while many governments focused on the academic side, other aspects of university education, like welfare of students, and particularly their accommodation, suffered. Thus, currently, in many university communities, students thronged to private landlords who built hostels arbitrarily and charged students exorbitantly.
Ideally, many higher institutions provide arrangement for accommodation for their students. But since Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo was founded in 1983, it has faced accommodation issues. In its case, there were no school-provided hostels and admitted students had to seek accommodation off-campus and were thus often exposed to unscrupulous landlords who sometimes, exploited them. The arrangement outside the campus environment also pitted students against non-students, which in some instances have resorted in fracases. And overall, the absence of school hostels also robbed the students of the ‘total’ campus experience which incorporates the different forms of student activities at the different times of the day.
However, hope of reprieve looms as governor Akinwunmi Ambode announced that the Lagos state government in partnership with the private sector will build and deliver a 6,000- capacity hostel for LASU students.
Interested in advancing the growth trajectory of LASU becoming one of the best five universities in the country by 2020 and preferred university of choice by 2025 Ambode said his administration will continue to invest in physical and social infrastructure in the institution.
The investment in LASU by the Lagos state government is surely yielding results. In the recent ranking by the National Universities Commission (NUC) in 2016, the school emerged Best State University in Nigeria and also became the first state university to have its Faculty of Dentistry fully accredited by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria.
Of course, the main reason why many higher institutions have shielded away from providing hostels for their students is likely to be paucity of funds. And given that the universities are yet to satisfy its core of providing world class education desired, funds to build hostels will definitely occupy lower spaces on their scales of preference. Unfortunately, the absence of hostel facilities in many public higher institutions poses stress-risk for many students.
To be an effective student, certain things – like qualified manpower, conducive learning environment and good feeding are mandatory.
Also, optimal benefits may likely be derived should personal necessities such as being in a good frame of mind and body, good nutrition and adequate shelter be provided. Of course, while every student may have to provide some of these basics for themselves, they cannot provide their own houses by themselves.
While no research has been conducted, it is likely that the absence of adequate accommodation will negatively affect a student than one who does not have such worries. Also, if a student does not have suitable place to lay his or her head or is forced to ‘squat’ with other students, the productivity level of such students is likely to be affected– negatively.
This is where the Lagos State’s involvement in providing hostels for students is welcome. Firstly, while it is a private-sector generated venture, funds to produce these hostels would be provided by the business environment. And because it is a government intervention, its location, building specifications, sensible renting and maintenance would be regulated so as to best conform to what is expected in an academic environment.
With this move to build a 6, 000 -bed capacity hostel, LASU will be different as majority of the student population will co-habit, ensuring a more robust relationship beyond academic or daylight activities. Social activities are bound to receive a boost.
Hence, the coming of hostel initiative by Governor Ambode-led administration should be lauded and all hands must be on deck to support such developmental efforts.