Students across various institutions of higher learning in Nigeria are constantly faced with industrial action, either by the Academic or Non-Academic Staff Union of various institutions. Most of these strike actions are caused by disagreement between the government and the unions of various institutions, arising from non-implementation or partial implementation of former agreements reached.
The disagreement or lack of understanding between government and academic community often result in deadlock that usually disrupts academic calendar.
As the saying goes, when two elephants fights, it is the grass that suffers it. The grass, in this case is the students who bear the brunt of the disagreement.
Incessant strikes dwindle the academic performances of students. As learning is suspended for a long period, the students reading abilities fall. Even the knowledge acquired during the learning period is even forgotten by some students. This mostly turns some students into certificate seekers than knowledge seekers.
Also, most protracted strikes distort the school calendar. The after-effect is prolonged school year that exceeds stipulated periods. Most academic activities for the school year are distorted. This is one major cause of producing unqualified graduates who are deficient in their fields of study. In the same vein, students who are supposed to do a four year course end up spending six years in the school for a simple programme.
Such strike periods also have the tendency of leading undergraduates into some social vices like prostitution, oil bunkering etc. “An idle man” they say, “is the devils workshop.”
There is therefore, the need for a re-evaluation of the education sector. Factors that often lead to strike in our institutions should be addressed. There is no doubt that the infrastructures in most of our schools are as old as the years of the schools. This is unacceptable.
A conducive learning atmostphere is a sine-qua-non for quality education. In addition, education should be properly and adequately funded to encourage effective research and to avoid brain drain. Proper funding and equipment of Nigerian universities will go a long way to stop further strike action.
Meanwhile, government should always try to honour whatever agreement reached with the academic communities. Most protracted strikes can be averted if necessary steps are taken to build a good relationship between both parties. It is worth emphasizing that any government with a poor education system is heading towards a black future.
At the same time, the various union in our institutions of higher learning should device other means other than strike to resolve aggrieved issues. Strike action be the last resort. This is because of the negative effect frequent strikes have on students and the entire academic community.
It is sad that no government since the First Republic up till the present dispensation has averted strike action in our institutions of higher learning. The military government was the worst victim. If we are magnanimous to excuse the militancy government of its insensitivity to the students, given its mode of governance through fiat, there is no reasonable justification for the democratically elected government to toe the same path of academic destruction.
Any government that does not encourage education of its youth is directly compromising the future of the nation. Such government is not worth living.
Kagbaranen is a student of Mass Communication, Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST), Port Harcourt.