Members of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, ASUP and the Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union, COEASU have been on strike since the 4th of October, 2013 without any resolution in sight.
The government claims they’ve met 90% of the demands of the lecturers but apparently that, if true does not appear to impress them as they have vowed to continue the strike till every bit of their demands are met.
Interestingly, lecturers of Polytechnics and Colleges of Education embarked on this strike, after a warning strike failed to attract government attention, long before the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU embarked on theirs for which a resolution have since been found following pressure from all aspects of Nigeria’s society including non-stakeholders.
Unfortunately, this kind of pressure is lacking in the case of this strike by lecturers of Polytechnics and Colleges of Education, and government seems to be riding on public apathy towards Polytechnics and Colleges of Education to stall on negotiations further prolonging the strike and the agony of the unfortunate students whose academic life is now experiencing a ‘break in transmission’.
Of all arms of Education in Nigeria, the Polytechnics and Colleges of Education have suffered the most neglect. Worse still their graduates are considered second class citizens, and this continues to play out in the coldness with which their plight is greeted by the public, even the media, thereby strengthening the hand of government in dealing with the hapless lectures with less gusto and alacrity as witnessed with the University lecturers strike, where at a point even the President Goodluck Jonathan intervened, and though his intervention was rebuffed the lecturers still had their way.
An attempt that was made during the Obasanjo regime to come to the rescue of Polytechnics and Colleges of Education was ill-thought out and definitely wasn’t in the interest of restoring Polytechnics seeing that the plan was to convert them to degree awarding institutions i.e. Universities.
That plan fell through because though some Polytechnics and Colleges of Education were named to pilot the drive, the necessary political will to drive the action was stillborn hence it died a natural death, besides it could never have solved the problem as it was a move that appeared to recognize institutions like that as Second Grade, producing Second Class graduated, and government action akin to that of a man thinking to cure a headache by cutting off the head.
Presently, the government continues to stall on efforts to remove the discrimination Polytechnics and Monotechnics face in Nigeria, and the society looks the other way even when their wards are roaming the streets because schools are shutdown, and will roam the streets after graduation because of the discrimination graduates from Polytechnics have to live with.
Interestingly, even at the Economic Summit held last week on Education in Abuja, the issue of these striking lectures wasn’t given adequate attention, save for some reactions as part of the general malaise in Nigeria’s education sector.
It is very sad that this veritable arm of education, is treated like this in Nigeria while both government and people keep mouthing the possibility of Nigeria joining the elite league of the world’s top twenty industrialized nations yet blatantly bruising the path that could set the country on the sure footing for such.
I wonder which or on what pedestal Nigeria’s technological blueprint for the future is predicated if Polytechnics are allowed to die, what future have we when Colleges of Education are left to school only those who have nowhere else to turn, without necessarily nurturing any zeal to impart knowledge acquired, as teachers.
Nigeria, Giant no doubt has once again shot itself in the Foot!