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2018: Strike, Underfunding, Insecurity, Ill Winds Against Education

Nigeria Student Forum / Educational News / 2018: Strike, Underfunding, Insecurity, Ill Winds Against Education (111) Views

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Adelani Temiloluwa
School Of Nursing Ondo
Nursing Student
300Level, Nigeria.

The outgone 2018, to observers, will be remembered as turbulent for the education sector. It is a year characterised by perennial strikes by labour unions in tertiary institutions. Interestingly, most of their agitations hinged on poor funding, poor or lack of motivation for teachers, dilapidated infrastructure, government’s failure to honour NEEDs Assessment Report, as well as inconsistency in government policies, among others. ADEGUNLE OLUGBAMILA looks at some of the highlights in education and give an appraisal of some government agencies.

The year 2018 witnessed some high and low moments in the education sector. While some government agencies deserve kudos, others were simply inactive. A critical look at the performance of some government’s parastatals against other major happenings in the education sector.

The National Universities Commission

Not much has been heard from the National Universities Commission (NUC) beyond orientation and sensitisation meetings for workers and other stakeholders. However, the Commission has said it would embark on manhunt of universities, especially privately owned ones, that have been found to be deficient in infrastructures, or have formed a habit of owing their employees, and fail to meet other parameters required in an ideal university. The Commission believed the proprietors of such institutions have no business running private universities in the country.

The NUC Executive Secretary, Prof Abubakar Rasheed said the commission has been inundated with ugly habit of some private universities that owe their workers, or have no requisite workers or facilities, years after being granted operating licenses.

Abubakar, who spoke at the inuaguration of four projects by the Afe Babalola University Ado Ekiti (ABUAD) last year, said to guide against such development in future, the commission would put on a template to discourage would-be proprietors, desirous of using crooked means to obtain license without genuine desire for quality education delivery nationwide.

He said: “If you cannot function as university or contribute to the production and simulation of knowledge , you have no business staying in the market.”

He continued: “We have been talking to a number of those (struggling) institutions and I’m happy to say that they are not in the majority. Most of the universities in the country are doing well, but there are a few private universities with serious challenges. We have started talking to them. Very soon, we are embarking on a comprehensive tour of the universities with a view to assisting them. But those that cannot major, we are considering revoking their licenses.”

Whether the Commission would walk its talk or not this year, no one knows yet.

Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC)

The Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) initiated the National Personnel Audit (NPA), which is key because it centres on census of basic education infrastructures and personnel to avail government the knowledge and information necessary for policy formulation and implementation.

After the exercise, UBEC helmsman Dr. Hamid Bobboyi, announced that the board visited 64,680 and 51,113 public and private primary schools, in addition to another 13,122 and 17,734 public and private junior secondary schools. According to him, the result of the exercise would be made public next month.

Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council

Many lovers of History have applauded the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) when it reintroduced History in primary and junior secondary schools in the year under review.

NERDC Executive Secretary, Prof. Ismail Junaidu was optimistic that the initiative would further deepen constructive appraisal of traditional values and identities. Besides, it would enlighten students in knowledge acquisition to enable them appreciate History as tool for national integration and harmony.

The History curriculum was launched alongside ‘Teachers’ Guide for History Teachers’, a document that accommodates teaching skills on how to impart Knowledge of History.

National Business and Technical Examination Board

The National Business and Technical Examination Board (NABTEB), was enmeshed in crisis, despite its ongoing campaign to make technical education more appealing to Nigerians.

Both the Registrar of the Board and former Chairman of the Governing Board, Professors Ifeoma Isiugo-Abanihe, and Leonard Kashima Shilgba, were at daggers drawn, with the former accusing the latter of dishing out instructions beyond his constitutional purview.

The crisis led to Shilgba suspending Prof isiugo-Abanihe and some senior directors without informing the minister, let alone getting approval from him. Eventually, the board was dissolved by the minister.

Teachers’ Registration Council of Nigeria

The TRCN under the present leadership of the Registrar, Prof Josiah Ajiboye has continued to championed the course of separating the wheat from the chaff. Ajiboye never masked his intention that only professionally trained teachers must man the four walls of the classrooms. The non inducted, Ajiboy insisted, must be weeded out latest by the end of this year.

The TRCN conducted the Professional Qualifying Examinations PQU( first in June last year, which over 22000 teachers sat for, while the second edition, which also saw over 17000, held in October

National Examination Council (NECO)

The National Examination Council •NECO( in April conducted common entrance examination for about 8000 pupils nationwide. Similarly, it successfully conducted SSCE for SSIII students nationwide. In May, NECO Registrar, Prof Charles Uwakwe was suspended by the Minsiter of Education Mallam Adamu Adamu for alleged financial misappropriation.

A few months after, the examination body announced that a committee set up to investigate the NECO boss discovered a high scale corruption in the system. In a briefing in Abuja, permanent secretary in the Ministry, Mr Sonny Echono said thouh the rot might not have been officially supervised by Uwakwe, nonetheless, he had all it took to have prevented such fraud which Echono said had to do with scratch cards.

Joint Admission and Matriculation Board

JAMB successfully conducted the 2018 UTME exercise for over N1.6 million candidates and results released as and at when due. In the year under review, It also improved on its Information and Communication (ICT) gadgets deployed in counter examination fraud.

The board equally remitted N7.8 billion accruing from sales of form and other services to Federal Government. This is also a repeat of 2017 feat where same amount was remitted.

Nonetheless, there was a comic relief to JAMB’s ‘mystery snake’, which gulped N36 million at the board’s Benue office. The incident, discovered by the audit unit of the board, generated a lot of condemnation. The controversial development provoked a lot of unsalutory comments on the social media. Clowns and jesters instantly feasted on it to make audio-visual mimickry of the situation, which was shared, particularly on whatssup and twitter pages. In some states such as Kano, Yobe and Edo, JAMB co-ordinators failed to explain the mysterious disappearance of N20million, N20million and 15million each in their domain.

At present, JAMB 2019 is due out on January 10 and will be sold at N4.500, following the Federal Government directive that the price be slashed from N5000 to N4500.

Insecurity in schools

The issue of insecurity, particularly in schools in the Northeast continued to be a major concern.

Recall that, on the night of April 14, 2014, over 200 female pupils, writing the West African Senior School Certificate (WASSCE), were kidnapped from the Government Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State, by a religious terrorist group, Boko Haram, a development that provoked global outrage.

On February 19, 2018 the dreaded Boko Haram struck again, abducting 110 school girls from Government Girls’ Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State. The captives were though released a month after with only a victim, Leah Sharibu, still in captivity because she refused to renounce her faith as a Christian.

To ensure that schools are in immuned to invasions, the Federal Government said it had committed over seven billion naira on provision of security gadgets for the 108 unity schools nationwide between 2017 and last year.

Education Minister Mallam Adamu Adamu, who spoke during the safe school initiative programme in Abuja, last December, added that part of the security infrastructure included four perimeter fencing for schools that were yet to have; CCTV cameras within school premises and solar- powered street lights, among others.

He added that there is also a special attention to schools in the northeast, especially those that have been ravaged by Boko Haram.

Adamu recalled that in 2017 budget, the government provided N5 billion for security gadgets for 65 unity schools, adding that N2.025,811,972.99 was similarly made available for 39 beneficiary schools last year.

Chief Security Officer of Lagos State University (LASU) Mr Kayode Kolade, noted that in addition to the aforementioned gadgets, employed the services of trained security personnel was key.

He said: “The CCTV and other gadgets being procured are good; as an expert, however, I am of the strong belief that employing the service of professional security personnel is most important,” Kolade told The Nation.

“What I have observed in some of those schools is that they just employ security personnel as mere window dressing; security in the 21 Century has gone beyond that.

“We need the kind of security officers that are very vigilant and at alert 24 hours of the day. There is a term in security that we call ‘somebody looking, but not seeing’ that is alertness for you.

“Security is an expensive venture; the more you spend, the more likely secured you are and vice versa.”

“We are not talking of security personnel that would be given a uniform and paid N2000. We are talking of well trained personnel here, who needs not be prompted before he or she knows what next to do.

“Before any attackers or kidnappers embark on a mission, the first thing they do is carry out a security appraisal of their target location; but most importantly, they look at the strength or weakness of the security personnel. Once they know the weakness, that is what they will explore.”

Kolade said taking internal measures should be the next line of action. “For instance, in LASU, we ensure that whoever you are, once you are using tinted glasses, you must wind down. We want to see those inside the vehicle and ask them some questions.

“In some of the primary and secondary schools you just mentioned, don’t forget that there are some children of the middle class and the super rich. Our experience over the years has taught us that some of these children are highly vulnerable. Some of them are prone to criminality. So, an experienced personnel can quickly identify these kinds of children and put them under check before they break out of school or lure criminals into the school.”

ASUU/ASUP/COEASUU strike

If care is not taken, the New Year may witness a fresh showdown between students and the Federal Government next Monday. National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), has warned government not to take for granted the threat it issued two weeks ago, to grind to a halt government activities, should the industrial strike by ASUU and ASUP not resolved.

On December 24, last year, NANS asked Federal Government to resolve outstanding issues with ASUU and ASUP, which began industrial strike on November 5 and December 12 respectively, failure, which it would mobilise its members for a nationwide protest. Unfortunately, 2018 ended with government’s failure to resolve the strike by both unions.

“We are telling the government not to allow the 1979 scenario repeat itself by January 7,” NANS President Danielson Bamidele Akpan, told The Nation on phone earlier in the week.

“Since our release over a week ago, no one among the parties has responded yet. I think they are taking us for granted,” he added.

NANS lamented that its members had repeatedly paid the huge price for the consistent showdowns between striking teachers and the government, which in most cases stretched schools’ academic calendar beyond limits.

The students’ body was established in 1980s as a virile body to replace the proscribed National Union of Nigerian Students (NUNS) by former Head of State, Gen. Olusegun Obsanjo, when the students’ body embarked on a nationwide protest between 1978-1979 to kick against increase in tuition.

On December 5, of the outgone year, the College of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU), also suspended its two month-old strike. Announcing the suspension last month, its National President, Nuhu Ogirima, said the union took the action to give the Federal Government the benefit of the doubts

On December 19, the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) ended a three-day warning strike. The strike was sequel to a general strike suspended in March last year by the three unions in the universities-Non-Academic Staff Union of universities and Allied Institutions (NASU), National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT), and SSANU. The unions now operate under the Joint Action Committee (JAC). However, SSANU is still threatening another showdown this month if the government fails to respond positively to the last month’s warning strike.

The Nation’s findings revealed that the avalanche of strike is due to Federal Government’s inability in honouring the agreement it signed with the unions.

Grounds for agitation

Declaring the indefinite strike at the Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA), ASUU National President, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, said the union was irked by the present administration’s failure to honour the Memorandum of Action it signed with the union in 2017.

The said agreement is hinged on the revitalisation and funding of universities, unpaid and accumulated Earned Academic Allowance, and the release of the university staff pension company licence, among others. ASUU was equally angry that the authorities had repeatedly demonstrated disregard towards the agreement.

For ASUP, the showdown will continue until the government implements the NEEDs Assessment Report. The government, it said, must also release CONTISS 15, and migration arrears of lower cadre. The authority must rescind its non-payment of union check off dues, and non-payment of members’ salaries in state-owned institutions, among others.

#SSANU, #NASU and #NAAT were not happy over the government’s non-implementation of the 2009 Agreement and the memoranda of terms of settlement. The unions also want the government to reinstate some of their sacked members in the university staff schools. They are also demanding a career progression for technologists on Consolidated Tertiary Institutions Salary Structure ( #CONTISS), among others.

For #COEASU, some of its agitations border on Renegotiation of the Federal Government/COEASU 2010 Agreement; Peculiar Earned Academic Allowances, promotion arrears, and shortfall in personnel allocations. Others include: autonomy for colleges of education to award degrees, as well discrimination against colleges of education by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund).


Source: http://thenationonlineng.net/2018-strike-underfunding-insecurity-ill-winds-education/

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