By Isma’il Alkasim
Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today— Malcolm X
Unequivocally, the educational sector requires critical and colossal funding from various stakeholders, whether civil society or a particular individual, not only the government. The intervention programs, which are basically designed to address the critical challenges bedevilling the sector, contribute a greater percentage to the educational sector’s wellbeing.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has recommended that 20—25% of the country’s budget be allocated to the educational sector to ensure the sector’s effectiveness.
Notwithstanding, Benjamin Franklin, asserted that an investment in education pays the best interest. This has been a rejoinder to the elites who had no clue what would guide them through, thereby emanating a cohesive plan towards the educational reform.
A concert series of strikes, declared by the Academic Staff Union of the Universities (ASUU), leave a deep scar in the memory of the students whose interest and ambitions were solely dependent upon their studies. And this is a serious threat to the nation where insecurity and poverty threaten the lives of its citizens. The ASUU and the government should understand the gravity of the tension this strike may accelerate.
Furthermore, the last industrial action in 2020 through 2021, which ASUU has spent almost a year striking, led to a gigantic imbroglio to university education. Meanwhile, nearly every university could not fulfil its academic calendar in a duly prescribed time. This strike, all despite a whole year spent due to the outbreak of the Covid—19 pandemic, but both parties, the government and ASUU, had failed to get rid of the strike before the lift of lockdown. This indicates how lackadaisical the government is to prevent the ASUU from continuing an indefinite, elongated, and pervasive strike.
Are we really serious?
Probably, not; we are not serious at all. If the government and ASUU can’t sit and share the same cup of tea to find the lasting solution to this horrendously, repulsive and awful strike, as citizens of conscience can’t hold both parties accountable? Why can’t to come out en mass and protest against the lackadaisical of both parties? It worked in an EndSARS protest, so we need to borrow and use the same language as a last resort.
The worst part of this ASUU—FG drama is that those at the centre of the controversy do not value the Nigerias’ education system. Perhaps, their sons and daughters aren’t the victims of the elongated strikes since they spent or are spending their educational journey abroad; the great countries that have done everything possible to redefine and standardise their educational sectors.
The United Kingdom, for example, had spent at least 900 solid years revitalising and meliorating their educational sector before it came to fruition and privatised the industry. This indicated that the suggestions and recommendations made to the government of Lugards’ amalgamation in 1914 to take a bold step towards commercialising the sector would not yield any positive result. Instead, it’s a giant stride to uplift, breed and enhance corruption in the educational sector. More so, privatising the sector is unbecoming. The reason is that the educational sector is a system that is a babysitter that has weaned and breastfed every individual in the Nigerias’ domain.
How should it be?
On a lighter note, we should embrace ourselves collectively. As a whole entity, we shouldn’t lie to ourselves; there’s a limit to what government can achieve within its capacity about the economic status. This deserves no clarification to any discerning individual, but that shouldn’t be an excuse to circumvent and leave our educational sector (not only universities) in the stage of mediocre. We must value the system to make progress.
The education we are supposed to give our utmost priority is the basic education as the foundation ground and necessary stage for all citizens. But, until we resolve the odds vexing the UBE, the thirst to get rid of our universities’ problems can’t be quenched. So, at this juncture, the clamour to refine and redefine the universities system in Nigeria by ASUU is graceless and unbecoming.
May Nigeria prosper.
Isma’il Alkasim writes from Garki, Jigawa State. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.