There have been so many people commenting about the five month old ASUU strike. The dominant voices are those who want the ASUU strike to continue till Government meet the demands of the lecturers and those who want the strike suspended so that they can graduate. The people who belong to the first group are mostly lecturers who say they are tired of graduating illiterate, if government doesn’t have the money they insist on waiting at home till Government has the cash. The latter group is made up students who the day of graduation is now uncertain, they are no longer sure to graduate the same time indicated on their I D cards or admission letters.
I intend to take the debate further. Let us look at it beyond graduating illiterate or graduating from the university, let us use this incident to ask strong questions how Government at all levels (Federal, State and Local) have performed in terms of education. I am not talking about just universities or tertiary institutions; I am talking also about primary and secondary schools.
It is no news today that Public primary and secondary schools is a no-go-area for most parents. Government have neglected their own primary and secondary schools to a level that today it is only good enough for the house helps and less privilege relatives who are conveyed from the village to help a more privilege sibling in the urban area. This has led to increase in the number of Private primary and secondary schools and also increase in school fees. Government has failed to build more schools or fix the existing ones to meet acceptable standards. It is unacceptable that private individuals or cooperation have built more primary and secondary schools than the government during the time of this neglect. It is same fate our universities face today.
Public universities have been abandoned and left to rot. From 1999 when the first Private university was established to 2013,it is on record that 50 other universities have been built by private individuals or cooperation. During the very period former President Obasanjo and his Deputy Atiku both built their Private universities. These very people who couldn’t build or change one university to international standard in 8 years established their own. Just like our Public primary and secondary education, as the Government have abandoned public universities, the more private universities are been built and the more their school fees is increasing. The only reason why Government have not totally forgotten public universities the same way it has abandoned primary and secondary education is because of the continuous protest of ASUU.
The truth is if we look beyond the strike, we will see a Government that have abandoned education at all level. If we don’t confront the Government today, like primary and secondary education, our public universities will soon be only good enough for our house helps and less privilege relatives. We will graduate but in a country where we need fasting and prayers to get a decent job then I wonder how we will be able to pay our children through school? We will surely graduate but do we want our children to also squat or stand on the window receiving lectures like we did? In the same universities where our parents sat to receive lectures, we squat or stand receiving lecture, so have we ever imagined the condition our children will learn? We must ask ourselves these and other hard questions.
My concern is not whether ASUU is fighting for their personal interest. It is not a debate for or against the continuation of the ASUU strike. It is not about Government not honouring or honouring agreement. It is about the neglect of our tertiary institutions by Government, it’s about the rot in our education under the watch of Government. So how do we go about it assuming you disagree with the steps ASUU always take? As for me we must all do something. I believe that a responsible Government must make the education of the young a priority and Government have failed in this aspect. If Govt refuse to wake up,we must wake them up and doing that we must also be ready to sacrifice.
Bem Hulugh is a Youth, Activist based in Makuridi.
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