ASUU strike and the implications on Nigeria’s economy (II)
Strikes are becoming a severe phenomenon that continuously hampered the realisation of youths’ ambitions and dreams.
Students cannot adequately plan their life, especially females. Some females will get married during the strike and cannot cope with the stress of combining academic and home activities. Thus, strike also increases the dropout rate in school.
Aside from the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, which distorted all economic activities, including education, strike has been having a severe impact on academic activities leading to long school years that exceed the standard year for any programme. For instance, several strikes can extend a four-year programme by two or more years during schooling. I vividly remember spending close to two years in my 100 level as an undergraduate at Obafemi Awolowo University due to general and in-house strikes. Thus, prolonged strike distorts the academic calendar.
Also, delays in years of schooling due to strikes threaten Nigerian youths in the labour market as they face age barriers in entering some sectors like banks. While their counterparts who attended private institutions have graduated in good time, gone for national youth service, and are employed in reputable organisations, they face the risk of not getting a well-paid job in reputable organisations due to age barriers.
Furthermore, students may be discouraged from going back to school after strike is called off. This is because, during a strike, students find jobs to keep themselves occupied at home or indulge in other money-making activities. As a result, they lose interest in completing their education, particularly if they are earning a high wage and the possibility of finding such a position after school is slim.
Parents, too, have a fair share of the effect of the strikes. Industrial actions create psychological and emotional trauma for parents as they become unhappy and uncomfortable seeing their child(ren) at home when they should be in school learning.
In addition, many parents in Nigeria have given up hope of developing the educational system. As a result, parents are now seeking any method to ensure that their children study abroad. Some people who are not yet parents have even stated that they will make every effort to escape the country’s educational system. All these dampen development in the economy.
Furthermore, a strike also creates more hardship for parents and students as resources purchased for the semester will waste away doing strike. Parents will need to source money to acquire such things upon resumption. Students whose parents cannot afford to provide such things during resumption end up suffering for the remaining period of the semester.
Society also bears the brunt of strikes, like the saying that an idle hand is the devil’s workshop. There is always an increase in the crime rate in society due to prolonged strikes. The adverse effect of strike leads some students to social vices like armed robbery, oil bunkering, prostitution, cyber scams, pool betting, etc.
Strike is also a bad reputation for the Nigerian educational system and the economy. This is because it portrays the country in a bad light to the external world and discourages foreigners from coming to study in Nigeria.
While goal 4 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development emphasises the importance of lifelong learning opportunities for all people, unlike the Millennial Development Goals, which focused on universal elementary education, the Sustainable Development Goals include postsecondary education as a component of the global development agenda.
Education in Nigeria may not achieve its objective because the system is in shambles. As a result, it is necessary to re-evaluate the education system because strikes in our institutions are caused frequently by factors that can be addressed.
The way forward is for the government and the universities union to resolve conflicts amicably without affecting the glorious destinies of Nigerian youth.
Without a doubt, most of our schools’ infrastructure are as ancient as the schools themselves. A conducive learning environment is a prerequisite for high-quality education. Thus, the government should ensure adequate provision of educational facilities and infrastructure that will enhance teaching and learning in our schools.
The government should effectively and adequately fund education to stimulate good research and avoid brain drain. Proper funding of Nigerian institutions will go a long way toward preventing further strike action.
Furthermore, attractive remunerations to lecturers and teachers will enhance productivity and motivate teachers to carry out their duties effectively and efficiently. Thus, the budgetary allocation to the education sector should be increased.
In conclusion, any administration that fails to foster youth education directly jeopardises the country’s future, and any government with a failing educational system is doomed to fail.
Therefore, the government should make every effort to uphold any agreements established with academic communities, and the several unions in our institutions of higher learning should devise other means of resolving grievances besides strikes. This is because frequent strikes hurt students, the academic community, parents, and society.
Busayo Aderounmu is an economist and researcher