ASUU strike + COVID-19: Their Effect on The Already Deteriorating Educational Sector

Dumebi Okeke, Awka

On the19th of March 2020, the Federal Ministry of Education ordered for the closure of schools across the Nation as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Four days later, on Monday 23rd of March 2020, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) began a nationwide strike. Of course this isn't the first time ASUU has embarked on a nationwide industrial action. 

In fact, it has become a norm to be a nationwide industrial action in every administation from the labour unions; Industrial action is the last resort and it is accompanied with diverse effects on the Nigerian economy at large. 

Also, we cannot deny the fact that these actions have caused a drastic deterioration of the Educational sector in the country which in a way, had already had setbacks. These actions have effects that are both detrimental to the future of the Nigerian student and the future of the country as a whole. 

One of the effects of the strike and the closure of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic is the lost of interest in continuing programs on the part of the students. With the suspension of school activities, most students, especially those in the tertiary level, have resorted to the many online paying platforms in a bid to make money or other means of generating money and does not even wish for the strike to be called off anytime soon or the reopening of schools. 

With the continuous action of ASUU which is becoming a yearly routine, some students even end up dropping-out of school with the ideology that their purpose of going to school in the first place was to get a job that pays well and since they have now gotten such a job, they see no need in continuing their programs in the university. While some students lose interest in their current programs.

 Private and foreign universities seem to be the only option as they have completely lost confidence in the Nigerian Educational sector. 

The place of mistrust and loss of confidence is not only on the part of the students but also the parents who feel that if their children should continue in such an institution, they may spend more years in the university, more than they were even expected to. Therefore, those who can afford education outside the shores of the country will opt for it; which have a ' ripple effect' on the Nigerian Educational sector and the entire economy of the country.

I read a shocking Statistics sometime ago of how Nigeria spends a huge amount of money yearly sourcing for education in Europe and America.

The closure of schools have also resulted to hardship for both parents and students as parents who have provided the basic amenities for their children in campus have to go through the stress of re- providing as most students have consumed their resources while some other perishable provisions will perish as a result of the extension. What about the total or partial closure of businesses which will make it even harder for parents to raise money to re-provide these amenities not to talk of paying the school fees.
House rent for the students are also another area of interest. 

There is also a high risk of poor academic performance on the part of the students as most of them find it hard to read during this lockdown probably because of distractions at home and some even having no time at all to read due to the fact that they are now managing one business or the other.

The result of this is the student forgetting key points from lectures as a result of the long wait between  lectures and examination which in all leads to such person performing poorly. 
The result of this poor performance in examination would be the student carrying over the course and this could have an overall effect on his/her academic performance in the university which could even lead to the student spending extra years in university; the continuous Industrial action by ASUu also account for extra year(s) too, as a four year course can elongate to five, six, etc.

With the present closure of schools, it is obvious that students won't graduate in the year they are expected to. Some students have even rumoured schools not resuming till next year but the Federal Government hasn't confirmed anything just yet. While some students are enrolling into another university and others going into business, some other category of students have seen this period as an opportunity to delve into fraudulent acts. Many of them have left their books and gone into what they call 'Yahoo Yahoo' or ' Yahoo Plus'. It's no longer news that cyber crimes have increased during the lockdown and most of the people who delve into this act are university students. The members of the ' One Million Boys' who were terrorizing residents in Lagos some months ago are seen to constitute mostly youths and young boys who are not even up to the age of fifteen. The question now is what will be the latter future of our future leaders. Are we seeing a potential decrease in the country's Educational sector?

Although the pandemic plus the ASUU strike has had some downsides.
Apart from the fact that cyber crimes have had an increase in the last few months, some schools have started hosting online classes for students and this has birthed a whole new phase of  E-learning and ousting away conventionality in Nigeria which is sure to stay even after the pandemic is over. 

Some students have also used this period to learn new skills which on a normal school day they wouldn't have the time to learn. Many university students are now going into blogging and some are even going into farming! These skills are helpful both for the future of the Nigerian student and the future of the country at large.

To an end note, I thereby call on the Federal Government to listen to the pleas of ASUU and meet all their requirements as they were unfulfilled agreements made by the two bodies to improve and better the standard of universities in Nigeria.


I also call on the ASUU to make out meaningful discussions with the Ministry of Labour and all coordinating ministries of the Federal Government and the Accountant General of the Federation to pay the salaries of the lecturers as the President had already given his consent to that even without them enrolling in the IPPIS.

We the Nigerian student are hopeful that measures will be put in place to contain the spread of coronavirus in Nigeria which will make it safe for the opening of schools and every other sector that has been shut down.
This too shall pass.
God bless Nigeria

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