Nigeria’s Undergraduates And The ASUU Guillotine
Education when beaten into bits and pieces, end up with many parts burnt and the whole only half-baked.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck in full force, Nigerian undergraduates in public universities were at home staring down the bleak barrel of another indeterminate strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Now, more than six months down the line and with other public schools belatedly but cautiously resuming, ASUU has dug in its heels, insisting that unless their demands are met, its members have no plans to return to the classroom any time soon.
ASUU, Nigeria`s premier academic staff union, has always tangled with the government of the day. Its members have sometimes seemed overly eager to down tools at provocations many will consider slight. In defence of its actions, the academic union insists that its actions have not always been about the welfare of its members alone but for sake of Nigeria’s undergraduates whose futures are compromised by the shoddiness with which successive governments handle matters of education.
But as is always the case with grass when two elephants tangle, it is the Nigerian undergraduate that is crushed under the massive pressure generated by successive strike actions. Their programmes are suddenly and brutally interrupted at short notices and they are then made to return to their homes with all the uncertainties that come with it.
This vicious cycle keeps being repeated because there is never any serious commitment by either ASUU or the government of the day to resolve the intractable issues and end the incessant strike. Each of the parties always resorts to accusing the other of rigidity and at the end of the day, brittle compromises are reached which last for a while before hostilities are renewed and resumed with Nigerian undergraduates the ultimate casualty.
The current strike is a national tragedy. It bespeaks the priority we place on education which should be our foremost national asset and treasure.
Kene Obiezu, Abuja.
Source: Daily Trust