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Published On: Mon, Dec 23rd, 2019

Nigerian universities no longer conducive for learning – ASUU

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Biodun Ogunyemi, National President, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU)

Biodun Ogunyemi, National President, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), has also blamed the poor attention many students get from lecturers to the poor learning environment across universities.
Mr Ogunyemi said this when he appeared on the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum in Abuja on Sunday.
Mr Ogunyemi said that the learning environment in the 1980s and 1990s was quite different from what was currently obtained, stressing that the environment in most universities was no longer conducive for effective learning.
“First, I do not agree with you that they do not pay attention to their students, but, again, you can see that lecturers have hindrances in the discharge of their mandate.
“Lecturers are supposed to do three things – teach, conduct research and carry out community services.
“I have visited a lot of campuses; the environment is not conducive. In our days in the university, we had what we called clinic hours. I started that way in 1988.
“Clinic hours are when students could come freely into my office and we will discuss their problems, academic and otherwise. It was possible because where I was working, we had stable power supply.
“Now, you will see that in some campuses, they will give you light during the office hours, and that is the end, and this clinic hours is best outside office hours.
“Lecturers are not routine workers; lecturers too are under pressure in their offices. They do not have the comfort, they do not have the wherewithal to do their work and students’ populations is more than four times over.’’
Mr Ogunyemi said that relating, communicating and getting to know the students had become difficult as a result of the large population.
According to him, students oftentimes hide under this situation and may not even come to class which makes it difficult for lecturers to track them.
He also highlighted inadequate laboratory and library facilities as some other major hindrances to effective learning.
“So, you find that each time ASUU talks about the universities, these are issues we are trying to track and we bring them to the attention of government.
“That is why even now, we were having a regime of negotiation with the government team led by Dr Wale Babalakin, which was truncated at some point.
“That is why we are trying to engage the issues of funding of universities, universities are now grossly underfunded.
“We are also trying to talk about the conditions of service.
“The fourth area we are engaging is the enabling environment for academics to do their work. I believe academics in Nigeria are still doing their best within our environmental circumstances.
“That is why you still see our products going to universities abroad and still excelling.’’
He noted that the sector had the capacity to breed quality products regardless of the environment, and urged lecturers to give students the needed support.
Mr Ogunyemi emphasised the need for further negotiations with the federal government on funding and the provision of adequate learning environment and materials for the development of the education sector.
He also said that it is not a crime for lecturers to go on sabbatical in separate universities from that of their main employment.
He said such opportunity usually offers the opportunity of comparing standards.
He said that such sabbatical would only add to the system as it would afford the opportunity for lecturers to borrow and learn ideas from each other.
“The university systems allows for what we call Sabbatical. It is part of university tradition and practices all over the world.
“The purpose that it serves is that you create window for peer review. In other words, what you are doing in university A, you go to university B and see whether that is what obtains exactly, or you need to borrow something, or you share some ideas.
“Sabbatical is a mechanism for assuring comparability of standards. Anybody that goes out for sabbaticals, when he or she comes back to the university, he adds value to the system.
“You are bringing something back, no matter how little, to the system. Where you have gone too, they get something from you.
“So, we encourage that from time to time in the university system because universities are regarded as universal places of learning and research,” he said.
Mr Ogunyemi also explained that lecturers, who embarked on sabbaticals, are being paid by both their original employers and the benefiting institution.
According to him, before you go on sabbatical, you must write a proposal on what you want to do for that year; when you come back, you must present the result of what you have done.
“It is like a research/teaching leave; you also go to another place within Nigeria or outside Nigeria to acquire new information, knowledge and bring back the knowledge to add value to your work place.
“So, it is part of the inbuilt mechanism for developing the competencies and skills of the university academics for global competition. So, working in more than one place is not a crime.
“It is not something that is now being debated whether it is moral or immoral, because they are trying to read some moral script into it,’’ he said.
He also blamed the poor attention students get from lecturers to the poor learning environment across universities.
Mr Ogunyemi said that the learning environment in the 1980s and 1990s was quite different from what was currently obtained, stressing that the environment in most universities was no longer conducive for effective learning.
“First, I do not agree with you that they do not pay attention to their students, but, again, you can see that lecturers have hindrances in the discharge of their mandate.
“Lecturers are supposed to do three things – teach, conduct research and carry out community services.
“I have visited a lot of campuses; the environment is not conducive. In our days in the university, we had what we called clinic hours. I started that way in 1988.
“Clinic hours are when students could come freely into my office and we will discuss their problems, academic and otherwise. It was possible because where I was working, we had stable power supply.
“Now, you will see that in some campuses, they will give you light during the office hours, and that is the end, and this clinic hours is best outside office hours.
“Lecturers are not routine workers; lecturers too are under pressure in their offices. They do not have the comfort, they do not have the wherewithal to do their work and students’ populations is more than four times over.’’
Mr Ogunyemi said that relating, communicating and getting to know the students had become difficult as a result of the large population.
According to him, students oftentimes hide under this situation and may not even come to class which makes it difficult for lecturers to track them.
He also highlighted inadequate laboratory and library facilities as some other major hindrances to effective learning.
“So, you find that each time ASUU talks about the universities, these are issues we are trying to track and we bring them to the attention of government.
“That is why even now, we were having a regime of negotiation with the government team led by Dr Wale Babalakin, which was truncated at some point.
“That is why we are trying to engage the issues of funding of universities, universities are now grossly underfunded.
“We are also trying to talk about the conditions of service.
“The fourth area we are engaging is the enabling environment for academics to do their work. I believe academics in Nigeria are still doing their best within our environmental circumstances.
“That is why you still see our products going to universities abroad and still excelling.’’
He noted that the sector had the capacity to breed quality products regardless of the environment, and urged lecturers to give students the needed support.
Mr Ogunyemi emphasised the need for further negotiations with the federal government on funding and the provision of adequate learning environment and materials for the development of the education sector. (NAN)

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