When it was 11 days to the 2019 general election, Nigerian students were greeted with the news of the suspension of three months strike embarked on by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). It wasn’t so hard to tell that the Nigerian government was at its game of taking actions that would only cause a temporary relief and not a lasting solution.
As Nigerian students prepare to cast their votes on Saturday, February 16, many agree that the recent action by the federal government did not defy the fact that the present and past government had failed in making Nigeria better educationally. According to them, the numerous problems affecting public education in Nigeria would continue to exist until the government prioritise education and see that country’s future depended on it.
To Omolade Falobi, a student at the University of Ibadan, the best any Nigerian leadership could do educationally was to provide modern facilities for learning rather than teaching students with archaic systems.
According to her, the quality and relevance of what is learnt in the country don’t match with the international standard.
She said, “We are in a country where we have less than standard infrastructure to teach students what they really need to know in their disciplines, not what the structure has the capacity to teach. This has made our educational system purely theoretical with recycling of same old topics, with no consideration of improvements in the said fields.
“If we continue to follow this pattern, Nigerian students will not have what it takes to contribute their quota to national development or compete with students outside its borders.”
Lamenting the rate of incessant extortion from students, Deborah Adegboye, a student of the University of Lagos, believed that the Nigerian government could achieve more in the education sector if all of the funds generated in institutions were used for the right purposes.
She noted that investing in vocational training for students would help reduce the rate of unemployment and make students employers of labour after graduation.
She said, “The exploitation is unbearable. In my class, we are up to 200, and each student pays 15,000 as school fees; excluding other dues required of us. This would have been justified if the government invested as much as they collect from us. But the reverse is the case. Even, our lecturers extort us because of the government’s failure to pay them what they are entitled to.
“We want a future where students learn in a conducive environment, students gain employment as soon as they finish from school, they are tutored on life after graduation, and also provided with entrepreneurial skills”, she added.
On her part, Mercy Eleregbe, a student of the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, called for the need to put an end to incessant strikes in all federal and state institutions.
According to her, schools rarely go on strike in another clan. But in Nigeria, there is always a reason for either the academic or non-academic staff to be off work for months at the detriment of Nigerian students.
“It is so annoying that inconsistency makes one spend more than expected years in school, studying a course that the government has not adequately provided for,” she added.
Also, an A-Level student, Temiloluwa Akinleye, decried the extent at which favouritism had denied many qualified candidates from gaining admission into schools across the country.
“The Nigeria we have today is one where you don’t get admitted into school by merit, rather it’s by how many influential people you know; thereby making those who qualify to remain at home while those who do not actually deserve to be in school are the ones who secure admission. As long as they have connections,” she explained.
The Director of Campus Affairs, National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Comrade Ayodele Oyedokun enjoined the government to fulfil its part of all agreements made with all education stakeholders, in order to ensure stability in the system. He also emphasised the need for the government to place more priority on the education sector, as this was necessary for reviving the system.
“We want a government that will take everything about Nigerian education from elementary to tertiary level seriously. Even though we can’t have a free education in Nigeria, at least we should pay less; unlike the incessant increment effected by state and federal universities.”
“Also, the government should allocate more funds to education in the budget. Enough of allocating less than 10 per cent that can barely fund education. At least, 25 per cent of the budgets should be allocated to the sector, if we are ready to move forward.