As Nigeria continues its fight against the coronavirus disease which has brought the world to its knees and disrupted the functioning of schools, it is imperative that the government finds a solution to the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union Of Universities (ASUU).
Recall that before the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, lecturers across universities in Nigeria had been on strike over the failure of the Federal Government to honour the memorandum of understanding signed by both parties in 2019.
ASUU’s agitation covers the underfunding of the education sector, high level of infrastructural decay, non-payment of arrears, salaries and allowances, among others, which have always led to concurrent industrial actions for time immemorial.
However, this year, the emergence of COVID-19 usurped the role of ASUU’s industrial action in the disruption of the academic lives of students.
It is essential to note that, students across the varsities in Nigeria have suffered enough retrogression while the educational sector has suffered egregious disorder due to the coronavirus outbreak, and it will be double jeopardy for students, parents, and in fact the nation generally if the virus vanishes and students are still unable to resume due to ASUU strike.
The closure of schools has increased the number of youths (students) who engage in social vices such as cybercrime, raping, masturbation, smoking etc. Apart from the fact that school serves as a place of learning, it also keeps students busy from engaging in social vices. This, among other reasons, is why the government needs to find a solution as soon as possible.
The imprint of the despair that previous industrial actions have caused on the academic activities of all Nigeria tertiary institutions is still green. Some final year students who ought to have graduated by now are still at home because of the pandemic while the future graduating years of others as well have been devastated by further strike action after this pandemic’s disruption.
According to a PREMIUM TIMES REPORT, the deputy executive secretary, Suleiman Yusuf, who represented the Minister of Education at the meeting with NUC officials, said: “Universities not under ASUU watch can go back to class once they have put the necessary guidelines in place.” This implies that even if the government finds a way for students to resume safely, federal university students and other tertiary institutions under ASUU might not resume.
Meanwhile, since the government has foreseen the above implication, it will be more efficient if they resolve the two problems at once. In other words, while the government is looking for a panacea for the safe reopening of schools, they should also be looking at a way the ASUU strike can be resolved simultaneously.
The students of tertiary institutions have been at home for the past four months and it will be additional devastation if the students under ASUU’s watch are unable to resume with their counterparts in other universities across the nation.
On a final note, as the authorities intensify effort in fighting the pandemic and in looking for ways schools can resume safely, it’s important that they settle their scores with lecturers to allow students at every level to resume holistically when the solution to the safe reopening of schools is found.
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