Industrial actions by different unions blight the education sector at the tertiary level in Nigeria in 2018
By Anayo Ezugwu
The year 2018 was not rosy for students, teachers and stakeholders in the education sector in Nigeria. The year witnessed industrial actions by major labour unions in the sector. Associations like the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, ASUP, and the Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union, COEASU, embarked on industrial actions to register their grievances against the government.
The unions accused the federal government of refusal to honour the Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, it willingly signed with them. The latest strike in the sector started on December 12, by ASUP. The union explained that the industrial action followed the failure of the federal government to implement all the agreements it entered with them since 2016.
Suleiman Usman, national treasurer, ASUP, claimed that despite the 21-day ultimatum issued by the union to the government to address some of the issues it had raised over time, the federal government has been nonchalant in tackling the demands for improved funding of polytechnic education in the country.
Likewise, the government and ASUU are still negotiating on how to end strike embarked by the union on November 4. The strike was over poor funding of Nigerian universities, an alleged plan by the federal government to increase students’ fees and introduce an education bank, as well as non-implementation of previous agreements.
Government set up a committee to interface with the university-based labour unions – ASUU, Non-Academic Staff Union, NASU; Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, and National Association of Academic Technologists, NAAT, over the contents of the agreement the unions reached with government in 2009.
But in August, ASUU described Adewale Babalakin, chairman of the committee, as “a stumbling block in the renegotiation process” and called for the suspension of the committee. The 2018 ASUU strike is yet to be suspended.
In the year under review, COEASU embarked on strike on October 9, over non-implementation of agreements especially the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy, NEEDS assessment report. But the union on December 5 suspended the industrial actions, saying that the federal government had accepted to implement the report.
Nuhu Ogirima, national president, COEASU, said the suspension follows reassurances from government to meet some of the workers’ key demands and implementation of agreements. He said the union will reconvene in January to reassess government’s commitment and “will not hesitate to stay away from work again if it reneges on the agreement”.
He said government has accepted that there is decay in colleges of education and agreed to implement the NEEDS assessment report “Government through the minister of education has met with otherstate governors over poor and non payment of salaries in states colleges. Government has agreed to release a white paper tagged, ‘dual mode’ to implement partially, for some colleges to (be able to) award degrees,” he said.
During the year under review, the federal government on November 28, reduced the cost of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, JAMB, and National Examination Council, NECO, registration and examination fees. With the reduction, which comes into effect in 2019, applicants will pay N3,500 as JAMB examination fees instead of N5,000; N9,850 rather than the N11,350 for Senior Secondary Certificate Examination, SSCE, handled by NECO, and N4,000 instead of N5,500 for Basic Education Certificate which is also handled by NECO.
Adamu Adamu, minister of education, said the reduction was approved by the FEC after the memo on it was presented to the council. “Since the new administration came into office and a change in management and prudent management by JAMB, we have been able to see that most of what has been charged doesn’t have to be because a lot of it has been siphoned by corrupt officials. So, in answer to yearnings by parents, Mr President directed that we should look into the possibility of reducing the charges,” he said.
On August 2, the West African Examination Council, WAEC, released the 2018 ranking of all the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT. The result report showed that Abia State topped the chart, followed by Anambra, Edo, Rivers and Imo states, while Jigawa, Zamfara and Yobe states were the least ranked states in the country.
Other events in the education sector in the year include winning of gold prize at the World Technovation Challenge in San Francisco by Anambra school girls on August 9. The five school girls from Regina Pacies Secondary School, Onitsha, represented Nigeria and Africa at the challenge. The team, led by Uchenna Onwuamaegbu Ugwu defeated representatives of other technological giants including the USA, Spain, Turkey, Uzbekistan and China to clinch the gold medal.
Technovation is a programme that offers girls around the world the opportunity to learn the programming skills they need to emerge as tech-entrepreneurs and leaders. Every year, girls are invited to identify a problem in their communities, and then challenge them to solve them by developing Andriod applications that would address those problems. One Hundred and feeteen countries participated in the qualifiers but only 12 teams from all over the world were selected as finalists for the pitch in Silicon Valley.
– Jan. 1, 2019 @ 00:30 GMT |