EDUCATION SECTOR: Strike and Mass Struggle Imminent
EDUCATION SECTOR: Strike and Mass Struggle Imminent
For a summit of all unions in the education sector to work out a plan of action
By Michael Lenin Secretary, DSM OAU Branch
The education sector continues to become an object of lamentation and pain to students and workers owing to its decadent state. Unarguably, other sectors are in similar ruin, but the importance of education to development of humans and society makes such ruin more appalling, especially for a Nation that prides itself as the giant of Africa.
The APC/Buhari Administration has committed the same crime the PDP administration committed for 16 years – aggravating the misery of Nigerian students and education workers. For so many years, the budgetary allocation to the education sector has been crawling between 6% and 10%. The APC led Government, despite its propaganda of the ‘change budget’, last year, allocated a paltry 6% to the education sector. Notably, the amount budgeted to the education sector is clearly below half the sum of annual salaries of political office holders.
Against the lamentable poor funding of the education sector is the evident monstrous corruption by administrators in the education sector. These administrators who are undemocratically selected by corrupt politicians are aggressively sucking the little fund allocated to the education sector dry. The reason for the pitiable state of the education sector is not farfetched. It is government under funding and corruption in line with its commitment to anti-poor neo-liberal capitalist agenda.
Aside for the misery of the students, education workers are thrown into a pitiable state. This is a clear manifestation of the poor funding of the education sector by the Government. Education workers have been denied their entitlements in the name of economic recession. Indeed, the present state of the education sector is nothing to write home about. There seems to be no beam of hope of any resuscitation of the sector; all indices are in the negative, clearly, we are in for more painful days. It is only rational to conclude that a mass struggle of students and workers is inevitable and fast coming. Clearly, the system has indicated its inability to ameliorate the conditions of the working people and masses, it keeps on aggravating the sorrowful plights of the people. While what is ultimately needed is an overthrow of the capitalist system and an enthronement of socialism, workers, students and the masses have to consistently struggle to force the government to adequately fund education and other basic needs like health care.
Governments at the state levels have equally ruined the basic education system. Pupils in public primary and secondary schools are made to study under decrepit buildings with inadequate facilities to aid learning. This, itself, is nothing different from the current state of tertiary education, where different facilities are in deplorable state. The current state of the education sector is nothing but a conspiracy against the working class and the masses. Government officials that are meant to ameliorate the current despicable state of the education sector have consciously promoted private education and have thus, deliberately underfunded and ruined public education.
The pro-capitalist government of the APC is sparing no effort in taking education out of the reach of the poor by ensuring the total ruin of public education while promoting private institutions as an alternative. This clearly shows that without an organized resistance of students and workers against the pro-capitalist policies of the APC government, public education is bound to be buried; the APC and PDP have enough undertakers for this cruel aim.
Already, there is growing anger among students and workers owing to the deplorable state of the education sector. From analysis, the obtainable reality could evoke a mass struggle of students and workers especially if a bold lead is given by the unions and other campaigning bodies in the education sector. The direction the nation is heading to shows clearly that strike actions and mass struggle are inevitable especially in public tertiary schools where academic and non-academic staff have been receiving irregular salary payment since December 2015 aside the non-payment of earned allowances. Some institutions are already experiencing this, but there is more in stock. The pro-capitalist government of the APC and PDP, hiding under the excuse of economic recession, are hell-bent on placing the blame on the working people and dumping their responsibility of properly funding the education sector.
The big question, however, is how the education sector can be sustained in the face of negligence and unimaginable corruption? Indeed, a failure is boldly written! Patently, this would evoke a resistance from students and education workers. Already, students and workers are paving the way for this period through various strike actions and mass struggles. Workers’ unions and students’ union must begin to organize their members for a coordinated and united mass struggle that can begin to raise demands on all the aforementioned issues. As a starting point , a summit of all the key unions and the students’ movement in public tertiary institutions need to be convened to work out an action plan for joint struggle to save public education.