By Obiora Okeke
Tertiary institutions in Nigeria have witnessed in recent time incessant closures due to industrial strike actions. The effect of these repeated closures of schools and academic programs on students learning effectiveness can better be imagined than described. Tertiary education in Nigeria has thus suffered tremendous setbacks as a result of industrial actions by both the academic (ASUU), the non academic staffs and other labour unions.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities is a Nigerian union of university academic staff, founded in 1978. ASUU succeeded the Nigerian Association of University Teachers formed in 1965 and covering academic staff in all of the Federal and State Universities in the Nation.
The union have been active in struggles against the Government since 1980s in order obtain fair wages and university autonomy which has led to series of strike actions that has crumbled the Tertiary Education System.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Sunday 4th November,2018 commenced another indifinite strike over the failure of the government to fully implement the 2009 FGN-ASUU Agreement, the 2013 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and other necessities.
This disagreement between government and the academic unions which has brought a halt to academic activities in most Nigerian Public Universities, often result in deadlock that usually tells hard mostly on student.
Students are subjected to pitiable conditions which has destroyed certain things.
The Strike action has actually resulted to disruption of academic programs. When learning is suspended for a period of time, there’s tendency of loosing interest as many students desire certificates today other than knowledge. It has been proven that students perform less in examinations after returning from a strike period. Most student do not read during strike periods, while others tend to forget key points from lectures as a result of the long wait between lec
Many students have actually received undeserved extension in their study years as a result of disruption in the academic calendar. During strike actions, the academic calendar will be altered because certain things will be on hold. This will result to an extension which will only tell hard of the students as many ends up studying 4 years program for 5 – 6 years.
Lost of concentration on academic programs is a vital effect of strike actions. Most students have secured jobs or other means of generating money and does not wish the strike to be called off soon. This has made them loose interest and concentration in academic program thereby resulting to an increase in dropout rate which is very harmful to the economy.
Despite the poor research and innovation capability of Nigerian universities, incessant strike will continue to jeopardise the research they are undertaking. The kind of research and development activities that can put Nigeria in the league of developed nation cannot take place in a disruptive environment like the one we are currently witnessing in our universities. Consequently, students academic performance has comparatively become so low while various forms of examination malpractice are on the increase.
It is said that “an Idle man is the Devil’s Workshop”. Strike actions also has the tendency of leading students into some social vices like robbery, prostitution, oil bunkering etc.
As an old African proverb states: “When two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers most.” The same is applicable here. While ASUU and FG fight in disagreement, the effects tells hard on students.
– Re-evaluation of the education sector.
– Factors that often lead to strike actions should be addressed.
– The third man should always be considered while making drastic decision such as embarking on strike.
– Education should be properly and adequately funded to encourage effective research and to avoid brain drain.
– Government shouldn’t dishonour any agreement reached with any union.
– Some strike actions should be averted as room for renegotiation should be welcomed.
If all these recommendations and many more are considered, then there’ll a reduction in strike rate in the country.
I therefore appeal to ASUU and Federal Government to see reasons in speeding up actions in resolving and implementing of the MoU and joint agreement between them to rescue the nation’s educational system.
Obiora Okeke writes from Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike.