By Agidike Abdul Onu
It is no longer news that quite a number of corporate bodies and organizations now seek to employ only candidates who are less than 26 years of age. This will naturally exclude persons who did not gain admission to tertiary institutions early, as well as those who stayed longer in their institutions due to industrial actions or some other factors beyond their control.
Consequently, as a student in public school where strikes have become prevalent, there is every tendency that his mate in a private school will graduate before him and by implication become his boss in the office. The trauma and psychological effect of this on the student is quite unimaginable.
It was in view of the above concern that the Department of Tertiary Education, Federal Ministry of Education, Abuja invited Presidents and Secretaries of Students’ Union in public tertiary institutions in the country to a workshop where they were roundly reminded that students are indeed the real victims of escalated incidences on campuses.
The workshop with the theme “Towards a Win-Win Conflict Resolution to Prevent Escalation, Shut-Down and Disruption of Academic Calendar in Tertiary Institutions,” drew participants from public universities, colleges of education and polytechnic and provided a robust opportunity for rubbing minds on how to achieve harmony in the school system.
The founder and president of Mediation Training Institute Nigeria, Mr. Segun Ogunyannwo who was one of the resource persons at the workshop restated the tripartite role the institutions play, which include teaching, research and community services. “They are suppose to impart high level skills to a reasonable proportion of the workforce, developing intellectual capability of individuals and engaging in training of competent and responsible professionals needed virtually in all aspects of human endeavour,”he said.
However, Mr. Segun in his presentation noted that a number of challenges faced students of higher institution in Nigeria including limited access, increasing cost and decreasing quality occasioned by out dated equipment and obsolete organizational structure. These according to him are some of the obstacle militating against achieving the objectives for which tertiary institution were established.
Various speakers at the workshop dwelt extensively on the need for the students to join forces with their school management and to be in one accord towards enhancing harmonious relationship, rather than engage in actions that could disrupt academic activities on campus.
A lecturer at the Department of Law, Baze University Abuja, Barr. Effiong Esu, highlighted the legal and regulating framework for student’s unionism in Nigeria, tracing the history of unionism in Nigeria to the time when the University of Ibadan was established in 1948.
He noted with regret that “over the years, tertiary institutions in Nigeria have witnessed students’ demonstrations and unrest, often leading to destruction of lives and properties with attendant consequences of shut-down of the institutions, disruption of academic calendar, and elongation of duration of courses, little time for teaching and learning and examination without adequate preparation.
The plight of students at the Federal University of Technology, Minna readily came to mind in the circumstance. For instance, the 300 level students in the institution who have been at home will return to school on April 18, 2017, after over two months forced vacation and are expected to commence semester examination two days after resumption.
Dr. Louis Ogbeifun in his presentation “Creating a Peaceful and Harmonious Environment for Students in various Federal Tertiary Institutions” said that union and management are but two sides of the same coin, required for the purchase of industrial peace and engendering optimum productivity in an organization.
Dr. Ogbeifun blamed lack of effective communication and confidence building between management and the student union as responsible for most conflict situations in the campuses.
Deputy Director, Institutional support at the Federal Ministry of Education Mrs. Ann Haruna assured that such workshop would be organized regularly, to allow for interaction with leaders at various levels in tertiary institutions which in turn can guarantee sustainable harmonious relationship on the campuses.
The students’ union presidents and secretaries on their part commended Federal Ministry of Education for organizing the workshop and urged school managements to carry them along when taking decisions that affect the students.
The students also called on the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) to revisit its decision on payment of N10, 000 as regularization fee as against N5, 500 as well as the introduction of N2, 500 screening fee by some institutions.
Agidike Abdul Onu is of the Press Unit of Federal Ministry of Education, Abuja