-Mass Comm Student Advocates Scrapping of Medical Fees-
Resameokim Oyama, a third year student of Department of Mass Communication in Cross River University of Technology (CRUTECH) has advocated that authorities of the university should scrap payment of medical fees from the university’s fee schedule in order to make it easy for students to pay their school fees.
She made this advocacy in a piece that chronicles the unpleasant experiences of some students of the institution who reportedly sought for medical attention in the university’s clinic. According to her, scrapping of medical fees “could probably be the long awaited solution to the late fee payment issue in the school.”
Late payment of school fees has been a nagging issue in CRUTECH in recent years. Some months ago, the university published names of school fee debtors and the amounts they owed, in Nigerian Chronicle, a newspaper owned by the Cross River State government. That press release gave a deadline for payment of school fees and added that defaulters would lose their studentship and can only be readmitted if they apply afresh.
Reliable reports from the university indicate that although no defaulter on school fees has been asked to leave the institution, the university ensured that only answer papers of non indebted students were assessed during first semester’s 2016/2017 examinations. Reports also indicate that the university’s Senate is yet to take a final decision on what to do with examination answer papers of indebted students.
In addition, LinCornellah’s blog was reliably informed that the problem of late payment of salaries to staff of the university arises partly from the issue of late payment of school fees by some students. Usually, the university pays its staff from internally generated revenue in addition to what it receives monthly as subvention from the state government. School fees constitute the main bulk of internally generated revenue in CRUTECH.
Please read Resameokim’s thought provoking advocacy on this issue below:
“My hands are tired, not of writing, but of writing negative things about CRUTECH. But do I really have a choice? Every day, I’m greeted with one new issue or the other, issues that shouldn’t even be issues at all, issues we tend to overlook until something drastic happens and it’s totally out of our control.”
“Yesterday, an issue greeted good afternoon as I walked into my hostel room after classes. My poor roommate was terribly upset and was shouting all over the place. Apparently, she had just come from the school clinic and was treated really badly. According to her story, she was feeling really ill during her class and decided to seek medical attention at the school clinic.
When she got there, she was asked to bring her Jamb admission letter, school fees receipt that has a passport and 2 extra passports with some other documents! This is someone who could have passed out right on the spot and she was asked to go back and bring such documents.”
“Well, she went and found those documents and walked back to the clinic, only to hear that the doctor wasn’t available! I am practically screaming while writing this because it is the most annoying, stupid, inhumane and wicked thing I have ever heard of. She did not receive any medical treatment in the end. She had to find another hospital. She had to drag her sick self to a far away hospital, when she is supposed to have a medical centre in her school. This is just one case, a mild one even.”
“Another issue has just greeted me again. This time, it said good morning. During devotion in the hostel, a girl gave a testimony of how she felt ill and went to that same clinic. She was tested and it was found that she had typhoid and malaria. Drugs were prescribed and she took them but got even worse. Her friend went to that clinic too with an issue and was given the exact drug. They just got worse. It was later found out in an external hospital that those drugs don’t cure typhoid, malaria or the appendicitis her other friend had. They were just heavy pain killers.”
“I really cannot express my anger right now. What if those girls died? This is not the first time I have heard complaints about that place. This is just the first time it has seemed so real. Students say that all they have are IVs and a pharmacy that never has any of the drugs that students need. Some say you will have to go out of school to buy your own drugs. No nurse will help you do that, so sorry for you if you came in without a friend, you’d be dragging your life around to find your medication.”
“Why do we always have to cry first before this school does anything right? Why does somebody need to die before the authorities come to their senses? Why do we bother paying school fees with medical bills if we can’t receive basic medical attention? Please I would suggest that that part of the fees be removed in order to make it easier for us to pay. This could probably be the long awaited solution to the late fee payment issue in the school.”
“The problems in this place are in abundance. If it’s not the security, it’s the medical centre. If it’s not the living conditions, it’s the learning conditions. If it’s not the filing system, it’s the lecturer wahala. I really cannot wait for the day that I will write something so positively overwhelming about this place. I really cannot wait.”
An attempt to speak on this issue with the Chief Medical Director of CRUTECH Medical Centre proved abortive, as he was said to be in a meeting, at the time of that attempt.
However, a staff of that Centre stated that the Centre attends promptly to emergency cases and does not subject patients to further trauma. That source craved anonymity and stated that in cases involving patients who do not seem physically distressed, such patients are usually required to produce documents that properly identity them.
The source explained that that measure is meant to forestall impersonation because CRUTECH has a host community whose residents sometimes impersonate students in order to receive treatment at the Medical Centre. The source said that in some cases, students also give their medical cards to indebted students as well as non students.
Reacting to the advocacy on scrapping of medical fees in order to encourage payment of school fees, this source disclosed that the medical component of school fees in CRUTECH is N1,100.00 (one thousand, one hundred naira), adding that students who desire to pay school fees would pay such fees, with or without that sum of money.
The source suggested that CRUTECH’s management should open an account dedicated solely for the medical component of students’ school fees. According to the source, the services of that Medical Centre would improve when funds in that account are remitted directly to authorities of the Centre, rather than to quarters that require bureaucratic bottlenecks, just to purchase desired drugs.
The source submitted that, “If signatories to that proposed Medical Account approve and remove one thousand one hundred naira that each student pays to buy drugs, there would be drugs here in the Medical Centre. If they do that, students would not complain because they would have drugs and the right medical attention at all times.”
- Resameokim Oyama and Cornelius Ellah
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