“But, our society also needs to refurbish its mindsets and begin to desire science over miracles. We need to desire schools with applicable courses and functional curricula over churches, church programs and religious teachings”. – @ezebunaf4

It is no longer a matter of amazement to hear about strike action of the Academic Staff Union of Universities in Nigeria. Every Nigerian especially those that studied in Nigerian universities will testify that no one can commence and complete a full-time university degree studies without experiencing an ASUU strike.

A typical ASUU strike normally disrupts the academic calendar of universities, affects the study patterns of students, elongates the length of completing a university degree and impoverishes students’ parents by making them spend more as their wards are academically redundant at home or schools.

An ASUU strike is a nightmare a Nigerian university student does not wish for. In fact, it is one most students pray against. But, if Nigerian university students are interested in escaping ASUU strikes, why are the unionists in ASUU determined to have strikes as yearly events?

Since the creation of the union, a lot have changed. The conditions that kept union intact and completely functional have eroded just like our governmental and institutional commitments towards growing a society that valuably works for all.

Today, our currency is far less valuable than it was during the time of ASUU’s formation. Our economy is shakily downwards, monetary policies are unyielding and Nigerians are experiencing a different kind of hardship, one they never witnessed since this democratic dispensation.

This current ASUU strike is not a problem of today’s political leadership. It is a failure of our social, structural and institutional frameworks, a collapse of the political will to strengthen our educational base. ASUU is an example of an organisation that never updated its working mechanisms nor implemented procedural changes to keep the agency at par with their counterparts in developed societies.

Arguably, if ASUU was reforming itself, it would have long before now, sought out ways of avoiding strikes. It would have come up with strategies to keep itself less dependent on government. ASUU should have restructured itself, just like politicians and structured corporations get PR firms to reposition their public images, viewpoints and strategies.

Most of ASUU’s strikes have been about two basics, I mean very fundamental needs and they are monetary funding and provisions of better educational facilities for academic staff, educational researches for students and researchers and infrastructural facilities to aid learning and tutelage.

Historically, educational funding has been ridiculed by budgetary reductions from all levels of government: local, state and federal. Public education in Nigeria is a sham, a societal shame and a disaster waiting to explode.

I completed my primary and secondary education in public schools in Nigeria. My university educations, BSc and MSc were done in Finland. I wrote a master’s degree thesis that gave me a chance to compare the higher educational systems in Nigeria and Finland. The problems of higher education in Nigeria are enormous but solvable. It requires immediate reform and complete overhaul. A process that can never be achieved through striking.

Within four and a half years, I completed my BSc and MSc university degrees in Finland without any form of strike action. In fact, I was permitted to study extra courses during the summer breaks to guarantee an early graduation. And I didn’t lack computer or internet use, neither was paper printing or copying ever an issue. The study environment was equipped and medical care was provisioned for students, both local and foreign.

In Western countries, educational institutions and decision-making processes that involve educational structures, curricula and organisation are independent of politics and governments. Educational funding come from all levels of government to finance all levels of public education. All levels of the public educational system are autonomous in design, policy making and curriculum building.

More funding for educational researches come from corporate bodies, research oriented companies and NGOs. Majority of funding are used for facilities, salaries, organisations and overall running costs. In some schools and educational programs, students are paid stipends to partake in study researches.

ASUU must stop depending on governments for anything. Educational funding should be a legislation that will require legislative actions to change. Corporate bodies and private companies must contribute their quotas to fund universities in their state or periphery through sponsoring research projects, provisioning of educational materials and infrastructural facilities.

Nigerian governments-local, state and federal need to change their attitudes too. Government officers must stop politicking with ASUU and public education, especially higher education. But, our society also needs to refurbish its mindsets and begin to desire science over miracles. We need to desire schools with applicable courses and functional curricula over churches, church programs and religious teachings.

Any society that places religion first positions it’s educational frameworks to suffer. Religious organisations do not have to own universities to control their curricula or enforce their values. A society with a good educational system will have a society with good value system. We must as a people appreciate science based knowledge and desire to apply them to propagate meaningful societal growth.

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