As the Federal Government and Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) meet today to deliberate on issues affecting Nigeria’s university system, there are indications that something reasonable would come out of it.
The National Assembly through the Senate President, David Mark, announced last Wednesday, the approval of the extension of retirement age of professors from 65 to 70 years.
This is one of the issues ASUU is demanding from the Federal Government.
Since December 5, 2011 the umbrells body of lecturers in federal and state – owned universities had embarked on an indefinite strike alleging that the federal government was foot-dragging over the implementation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement, which promises better funding of universities, extension of the retirement age of professors to 70 years, university autonomy and better condition of service, among others, after signing the agreement with the Federal Government in October 2009, after nearly three months of strike, the union, led by its National Executive Council (NEC) President, Prof. Ukachukwu Awuzie, has been complaining about the non-implementation of most components of the agreement and issued several warnings, especially last year that it was running out of patience.
In May 2011, after a National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the union, it accused the federal government of insincerity, said, members were calling for a one-week warning strike which began on September 26, and then till now.
The Minister of Education, Prof. Ruquyyatu Ahmed Rufai, has urged the union to be patient and stated that the bill was before the National Assembly.
Prof. Rufai, while briefing newsmen at the end of a meeting between Federal government and ASUU which ended in deadlock last month, appealed: “I will still insist and plead again that ASUU has to call of the strike.
“We have already agreed that we will continue to negotiate in terms of ensuring that all the issues at stake will have to be addressed”.
The Education Minister urged students to be patient and understand the situation in the country.
While assuring that the federal government was making efforts to transform the country and was not pleased with the shortfalls in the universities.
Expressing her views on the latest development, the Owerri Zonal Cordinator of ASUU, Mrs Emilia Jaja, in a telephone interview with The Tide, acknowledged that the National Executive Council (NEC) of ASUU is meeting with Federal government today and that is when Federal government will officially present the document to the leadership of the union.
According to her, “It is a big sacrifice from the Professors anyway, because they are giving out a lot, but it is okay.
“Well we are very hopeful, if they meet on Monday, every other thing would be looked into, you know, that is not the only thing we have”.
She said when federal government looks at the other things, ASUU would call its national officers for briefing before local chapters would take action.
Her words: “We are hopeful that by Monday, something reasonable will come out of it. It will be reasonable enough”.
Bearing his mind on the move, in a Short Message Service (SMS), the ASUU Chairman, Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST), Chapter, Dr. Felix Igwe, recalled that the strike was called due to the non-implementation of the 2009 agreement.
According to him, “After the meeting on Monday, the union will convene NEC meeting to review the level of implementation of the said agreement and subsequently, decide on the way forward”.
He, however, appealed to governing councils of both federal and states universities that have not made any effort to implement the agreement to pay the requisite arrears of the accrued salary difference from July 2009.
He said that has become necessary so as to avert further strike after the national strike is been suspended.
Also expressing optimism about today’s meeting between the federal government and ASUU, a school teacher, Mrs Hannah Obiekwe, who said, if the National Assembly has approved the retirement age of Professors from 65 to 70 years, acknowledged that it is better for us.
“Experience has shown that the more you teach, the more experience you gain and the society taps from this laudable experience of teachers”.
“A nation without human capital development cannot flourish in modern competitive economy”, she expressed.
She advised government to treat members of ASUU with respect and dignity arguing that without them, students would have no future.
Also speaking, a non-academic staff in one of the tertiary institutions in Port Harcourt, Mr. Durum Nnanna, but they expressed optimism that the two parties would reach agreement today to enable students go back to school.
He cautioned that strike action should not always arise between Federal government and ASUU can reach agreement to avoid disruption in the academic calendar.
However, the National President of National Union of Rivers State Students (NURSS), Mr. Warmate Awoloye, expressed concern over the issues of ASUU’s incessant strike actions and appealed to ASUU to see to the plight of the federal government on education vis-à-vis the removal of fuel subsidy.
Awoloye said based on that, he is hopeful that the standard of education students crave for in the universities would come to fruition.
He advised both federal government and ASUU to dialogue and call off the strike as soon as possible because according to him, “we are tired of staying at home and we want to avoid further demonstrations on the streets”.
In his reaction, the President of Student Union Government (SUG), RSUST, Mr. Godswill Amadi said yes, federal government has met one of ASUU’s demands.
“So, probably on Monday, the strike will be called off”, he assumed.
ASUU members feel they had so many disappointments in the past and so would not take anything for granted.
Just last Thursday, the Minister of Education, Prof. Ruquyyatu Ahmed Rufai again, expressed optimism that the strike embarked upon by ASUU would soon come to an end.
Her words: “We are going to meet again with ASUU on Monday, and it is our hope and desire that after that meeting, we expect that they will call off the strike”.
I think what is left are one or two grey areas that need to be addressed and Nigerians and undergraduates wish the federal government to reach a compromise with the lecturers. There is a concensus that universities should come back to normal.
With the move by the federal government, to resolve the crisis, public university undergraduates should expect positive results from today’s meeting.
Centre Wants Govts To Update School Curriculum
The Centre for Distance Learning, Modibbo Adama University, Yola, has urged governments at all levels to update school curriculum in tune, with the realities of the new normal.
A Deputy Director in the University, Dr Abdullahi Bashir, made the call at the National Teachers Conference organised by Maltina Teacher of the year, on Friday, in Yola, with the theme: ”Classroom Without Border; The New Normal.”
Bashir said that the current school curriculum needed to be revisited in the light of current developments in the education sector caused by technology and current global realities.
He said this would help to improve the standard of education in the country and enable students compete with their peers around the world.
Bashir also stated the need for governments to look into teachers’ welfare with a view to align their remuneration with doctors, engineers and other professions.
In her remarks, Adamawa Commissioner for Education,Mrs Wilbina Jackson, appreciated the efforts of the organizsers for their contributions to education development in the country.
Jackson, who was represented by Executive Secretary, Post Primary Education Management Board,Mrs Maryam Abubakar, charged teachers to impact positively on the life of their students to succeed in future.
According to her, the world is moving towards technology, hence the need to encourage students to embrace it in order to succeed.
Mrs Christable Malachia, who spoke on behalf of the participants, said the conference was timely, as they had learnt a lot, having been exposed to how to relate well with the students, parents and other staff, as well as how to be good mentors.
Admission: College Begs JAMB For Waiver On Technical Courses
The Federal College of Education (Technical), Akoka Lagos, has requested the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), to grant it a waiver in technical courses.
The Provost of the institution, Dr. Wahab Azeez, who disclosed this in an interview with newsmen on Saturday in Lagos said that such waiver would attract more prospective students to the college.
Azeez was speaking against the backdrop of the poor enrolment of students in the college.
He explained that the idea was to create openings to attract school certificate holders to the college and build a career in technical education.
“Enrollment has not been encouraging and we are not silent on it.
“So, what we did was to approach JAMB to give us a wave in certain technical and vocational courses.
“We are hopeful that our request will get positive response from JAMB and it will throw opportunity for more students to register for technical or vocational courses in our college.
“Technical and vocational education is where the money is.
“Students who finish from the college may not necessarily look for a paid job because of the training they have acquired,’’ he expressed.
According to him, part of efforts to project the image of the college, was to reach out to the ministry of education with the purpose of having direct access to technical Secondary Schools.
Azeez explains that the college teaches related vocational subjects, which serve as foundation for students, who may want to settle in the field.
“Five technical schools are here in Lagos, including our FCE, Technical, which prompted our visit to the Lagos Commissioner for Education.
“The focus is more on technical teaching, where our seasoned lecturers take them through oral, practical rudiments of vocational education and inculcate in them, self reliance,’’ he said.
Azeez said that infrastructural developments, researches, academics, welfare, administration and social activities would continue to be prioritised, in order to make the learning environment conducive for students and staff.
According to him, construction of buildings for lectures, programmes and staffroom are ongoing, as part of measures to upgrade and bring the institution to an amiable state.
He said that under his administration, the science complex was being constructed and would be equipped with modern laboratory materials for the teaching of sciences and computer studies.
“Also, part of the ongoing constructions in the college is a technical workshop.’’
The management has equally taken steps to address issues of security water projects, he added.
The provost expressed optimism that the ongoing amendment bill on the Act that established the college, now at the National Assembly, would lead to the upgrade of the institution to a Federal University of Technical Education.
CEAPoly: Governing Council Chairman Lauds Members, Rector On Commitment
The Governing Council of the Captain Elechi Amadi Polytechnic (CEAPOLY) has been described as one of the best in the comity of governing councils in the various institutions Rivers State.
Chairman of the council, Senator Lee Maeba, stated this during at the ground breaking ceremony for the construction of the two storey governing council building complex at the insititution in PortHarcourt, recently.
Maeba, who noted that the governing council of the institution was committed to the progress of the institution, said it remained unwavered even in the faces of the challenge of a building for members’ meetings and deliberations.
Describing the members of the council as steadfast and lovers of the institution, Maeba expressed joy over the cordial relationship that existed among members, maintaining that their zeal and forthrightness would take the polytechnic to greater heights.
He said, “This governing council is one of the best governing councils in the schools in the state. I want to thank members of the council for their forthrightness and love for the school. These are members who spend their money to come to school on private visit to see to the welfare of the school. There is no friction between governing council and members and our meetings have always ended cordially. I am happy to be associated with these cream of members”.
While assuring that the polytechnic would witness flagoff of other constructions on campus, Maeba averred that the destruction of the former governing council building by the wildwind was a deliberate act to bring about a modern and beffiting complex in the institution.
“This auditorium was blown off by wildwind sometimes in May 2018. The sole purpose of the wind was to blow off a building that was no longer befitting for the school and the aim of the wind is actualised today”, he said.
The CEAPOLY governing council chairman further lauded the Rector of the institution, Dr Samuel B Kalagbor for his dedication towards the growth of the institution.
In his words”the Rector is committed as he wants to move the school forward. We have passed a vote of confidence on him twice. First as a provost and then seeing his dedication, it was on us to convert his duty as a provost to a rector and that was done seamlessly because he deserves it.
By: Lady Godknows Ogbulu
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