The call to always use the common man as the standard gauge, the cornerstone and yardstick for educational cost assessment has been at the front burner in recent weeks. This is as a result of economic woes that has bedevilled the local and even the international community in the past pandemic laden year, thereby deepening the poverty levels in especially developing communities.
The Notion of the Common Man
But who is the common man as used in this report? The idea of the common man here refers to the ordinary people, the lower ranks in the civil service, small scale business owners whose undulating or stable income is N100,000 and below per month. Common man here is rated only by income; all other dimensions of rating the common man like educational attainment amongst others are nonetheless considered here.
Since the common man income is weak and seldom sufficient for his needs, well meaning individuals who as it is, shared the plight of the low income earners had often called for the consideration of the common man while determining educational cost.
Oblivious of the Real Fact
But while all of use are carried away by the plight of the common man, I wondered away in my own very disquieting thoughts; should the common man level of income actually be used to determine educational cost?
It is hard to share my peculiar views here because I actually see myself as a deviate who think differently from society in general – where my views may be attacked by those overly glued to the plight of common man (a class I belong).
For me, I do not share the view that the income of the common man be used to determine educational cost. I begged to reason that the common man should work harder to meet up with educational demand if he seeks for such service. My reasoning are not without underpinning arguments. That cheap education comes with it, attendant consequences of low quality of education.
Again, it is like the case of academic cutoff/pass marks. When you stipulate academic standards in view of the never-do-wells, the intellectual suffers and pays the price.
Forasmuch educational institutions have their standards, they will set the standards and the attendant cost and then, the common man will up his game to meet up.
What in my own reasoning the well meaning individuals, who speak for the common man will do is to come together and sponsor the common man. You don’t speak for the common man at the expense of an institution. Same institution will die of funds as a result of the common man one day and all the well meaning individuals, their voices will not be heard. In fact, they will turn around to say the educational institutions have been badly managed by poor administrators.
Educational administrators must understand that it is difficult to satisfy human beings. Thus, their attention must be geared towards increasing the standard and quality of education, not pulling it down so that the common man can attend school at the expense of others. Support for the common man at the expense of the middle and upper class is not a good one.
Institutional standards will be set and educational cost will be determined based on services rendered and the cost of rendering such services and not the common man.
What the Well Meaning Individuals Can Do (Suggestions)
We all know that PTA also pays for developmental services for schools to meet up. Let us all join hands with the PTAs and pay developmental fees to the universities. This includes alumni, philanthropists, business owners, and especially those voicing out the needs of the common man.
The government is at the bane of this challenges facing the common man. The average Nigerian government (state nor federal) cannot give you common water, light, education, good roads, etc. Painfully, this is after paying your tax. Unfortunately, we have directed our anger at the educational institutions rather than facing the government. If the government pays all educational costs, decrease of school fees will become an easy task.
Expectations from the Common Man
Nobody actually classified the common man in such zone. It is a natural classification based on income especially in this report. If in any circumstance, the common man feels comfortable to remain in such position, whose business it is then to lift him up from there? Otherwise, being a common man would just be a stage in a man’s life where he has to engage in job, business, render services to actually live above the enclave of the commoners.
I was actually thinking when I read uninformed posts calling for reduction of school fees, crying for the common man – “is there really a place for the common man in this modern world?” No” I argued. In reality, there is no place in the developed world for the common. The common man is relegated to the background. This is why you see that even in religious institutions, the high tighters sit in bogus chairs at the epicentre, vantage points or front seats in the churches.
The common man do all the amen, holds all the beliefs, and do all the mercenary and messenger jobs. The middle and high class enjoy the whole show. It is just a natural classification in a capitalists economy and if the common man so dislike, he can actually increase his thinking, activate his intellect, learn, produce, render uncommon services and lift himself from the common man zone. This is the primary concern of his and not others.
Michael Oghenenyoreme is a Postgraduate student,
Department of Vocational and Technology Education,
Faculty of Education,
Niger Delta University,