Following the recent hike in tuition fees in Kaduna State owned tertiary institutions, the Marshal Katung Foundation has disclosed the floating of a scholarship scheme to assist indigent students in higher institutions from 10 local government areas of Kaduna State in the first phase.
Addressing a press conference in Kaduna at the weekend, the founder of the foundation, and a former House of Representatives member, Hon Sunday Marshal Katung, said, “ In the first phase of our intervention, we are going to give scholarships to vulnerable students from 10 local government areas (LGAs) comprising of Chikun , Kajuru, Kachia, Zango Kataf, Jaba, Kauru , Kaura, Jemaa, Sanga and Kagarko, studying in Kaduna State University, College of Education Gidan Waya, Nuhu Bamali Polytechnic and College of Nursing, Kafanchan.”
Towards this end, he said a dedicated website with a portal that eligible students from these institutions would apply through has been created, adding that in the second, phase, it is hoped that students studying in other institutions will be captured accordingly.
“But the Marshall Katung foundation isn’t restricted to only intervening in the tertiary institutions because we have done interventions on a lot of students in some secondary schools. We have also distributed aid to the displaced ones among us while feeding more than 1000 households during the COVID-19 lockdown in particular,” he said.
Katung who was the running mate to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate in the 2019 general elections said education is key to development and expressed worries with the spate of out of school children particularly in the North.
“Conscious of this, we have decided to complement the efforts of people of goodwill that are interested in improving the educational standard of the country by initiating a strategy to help the vulnerable students to pay their school fees.
“Governance to me must aim at producing happiness at the highest level for all. The Marshal Katung Foundation is now inviting potential students to apply through http://marshalkatungfoundation.org/student-welfare-scheme/
“Why are we preparing to give scholarship to tertiary students now? The general insecurity in Kaduna State has resulted in the temporary closure or relocation of about two tertiary institutions and about 18 boarding secondary schools.
“This has resulted in some students staying at home – idle. And we know that from the state of idleness comes the possibility of indulging in crimes with its negative implication. That’s why Victor Hugo said, ‘whoever opens a school door closes a prison door’.
“And for us, we are not only concerned with opening school opportunities for our students but also giving them hope for the future. We also want to call on the Kaduna State Government to reduce the school fees being demanded from students of its educational institutions.
“This increment is coming amid a global economic contraction due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was buttressed by the International Monetary Fund which noted that the global economy shrunk by 3.5 per cent in 2020. This represents the deepest global recession since the Second World War.
“The World Bank also estimates that COVID-19 has pushed an additional 88 to 115 million people into extreme poverty last year. And low-income families are the worst hit. Nigeria isn’t excluded from this.
“So, this and the pervasive insecurity in our state forms the biggest basis upon which we are appealing to the Kaduna State government to reduce the school fees so that the children of the poor can have the opportunity of getting an education,” he said.
The founder disclosed that the second phase of the scholarship scheme would accommodate other local government areas in the state.