ERC Commences National Campaign against Anti-poor Education Policies and attacks on democratic rights in schools
First reports by IBK, Abbey Trotsky and Dimeji Macaulay
In response to intensified crises of public education in Nigeria, the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) has launched a national campaign against education underfunding, fee hike, victimization of student activists and staff union leaders and activists well as sexual harassment on campuses. So far, about 1300 copies of ERC posters have been posted across 9 campuses. These include the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile –Ife, Osun State College of Education, Federal College of Animal production and Technology, Moor plantation, OSCOED Ilesa, Adeyemi College of Education Ondo, University of Benin and the Lagos State University (LASU). Another activity so far carried out was a press conference. The next stage now is to produce and commence circulation of leaflets, public meetings and symposia.
The aim of the campaign is to sensitize students and education workers and mobilize them to begin to resist the anti-poor attacks through mass struggle. While doing this, we also boldly call for NANS to be reclaimed and where this proves impossible, to be replaced by a new fighting, democratic and mass-based national students body.
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) is a platform formed by the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) to fight against anti-poor attacks on education while also campaigning for the re-building of the students’ movement on the basis of a fighting programme. We call on all those who agree on the need to resist anti-poor education attacks as well as the wave of victimization on campuses to join us. By joining the ERC and establishing ERC branches on campuses, you can help to build a strong force that can begin to transform the situation on campuses and in the students’ movement. Also we call for financial support for the campaign to enable us carry out further activities and take the campaign to more campuses. Please send any support to: FORTRESS Books Nigeria, 1012616511, Zenith Bank. Find below report of the campaign on campuses.
ACTIVITIES IN OSUN AND ONDO STATES – By IBK
On Tuesday 22nd and Wednesday 23rd of October 2019, Comrades of the Education Rights Campaign visited the Osun State College of Education (OSCOED), Ilesa, and the Adeyemi College of Education, Ondo to post National Campaign posters of the ERC on those campuses. This National Campaign which features postering, press conferences, and symposia, addresses the problems of the education sector with a campaign against commercialization of education, attacks on democratic rights and the tyranny of the management of campuses.
On October 22, issues on the OSCOED Ilesa campus like the repression of and interference in the students’ union by the management of the school were raised with us by the students who saw our slogans around that issue. We also met the leaders of the Academic Staff and the Non-academic staff who raised issues of the non-payment of allowances and casualization of non-academic workers on the campus. Both union leaders bought copies of the Socialist Democracy (SD), and contributed to the funding of the campaign in thousands of Naira. Two comrades pasted around the Ilesa campus and the Ido township where most students lived, and made three contacts on the campus that are being followed up and consolidated.
On Wednesday, three comrades visited Adeyemi College of Education (ACE), Ondo town in Ondo State with the posters of the campaign. We met with the leaders of the Non-academic staff union and the students union who spoke to us about the admission scams going on in the school and the poor welfare condition of the hostels. ERC posters were pasted round the departments and the hostels on the campus. An appointment was fixed with the leaders of the Academic staff who just led a strike in the school recently, but the appointment did not materialize. He promised to make himself available to us the next time we are on the campus. We made two contacts that we’re trying to consolidate on the campus, with one already politically active on the campus.
These visits were a continuation of the postering that kicked off in OAU by comrades in the school and at the CDL and The Polytechnic, Ife campus, and the comrades are planning to paste in the other schools across Osun and Ondo state in the coming period.
Comrades of the ERC started the pasting of the posters of the Education Rights Campaign at the Ekenhuan Campus of the University of Benin on Sunday 3 Nov 2019. Being the campus that staged a protest recently over poor welfare conditions, Ekenhuan Campus is the campus that accommodates most Art Departments of the School, plus one male and one female halls of residence. This followed a first round of visitations yesterday where two copies of the Socialist Democracy were sold to the students.
Recently, the students on Ugbowo main campus of the School also led protests for the same reasons of poor welfare conditions, but the recent violence on that main campus and the fatality (ies) that came with it has made it impossible to visit the campus. The university declared two Lecture free days to tighten the security situation on the campus.
For us in the ERC, the solution to the security situation is not the further repression of the students. Rather, it is the stoppage of the university management’s interference in Students’ union activities on the campus to allow the union to be democratic, independent and mass-based. The ERC calls for a congress of the Student’s Union to democratically resolve the security and welfare situation.
PRESS CONFERENCE – By IBK
As part of the Education Rights Campaign’s National Campaign against the Commercialization of Education and the suppression of unionism and democratic rights on Nigerian campuses, a press conference was held on Tuesday 29 October 2019 at the International Press Centre, Ogba, Lagos. About 11 media organizations (print and electronic) were at the press conference.
The press conference which referenced the suppression of democratic rights on campuses as a ploy to commercialize and underfund the sector made examples of LASU, OAU, UI, UNILAG, FUOYE, etc, where workers and students’ right are being suppressed unjustly. This climate of fear and repression is a bane to the freedom of expression that can guarantee the quality of Education in the Sector. For example, in LASU, workers and students activists alike are being framed up to make them easy prey for the victimizations of the university management.
The independence of the student’s unions on different campuses that are mass-based and democratic were also emphasized as the starting point to resolve all of these issues. We call on students, education workers, public and the media to support our campaigns and our correct demands on adequate funding of education and respects for democratic rights in schools.
Ultimately, the solution to this crisis will be adequate funding and the democratization of the management of tertiary institutions by involving elected representatives of students, workers, parents, host communities, and education experts in running and control of schools, and this is only achievable under a working class government with socialist policies.
FCAT, MOOR PLANTATION – Abbey Trotsky
We were informed of an ongoing protest of workers in the Federal College of Animal production and Technology (FCAT), Moor plantation, Ibadan by members of the Education Rights Campaign, ERC, Oyo state chapter who stumbled on the protest while pasting national posters of the ERC within the college. On getting to the venue, we got to know that the protest is over non-payment of promotions allowance arrears from 2016 up till date and workshop/conference allowance for the same period. In response to this development which has been on since last week Wednesday, the college administrators and members of the administrative board of the college had invited the leadership of the struggle which is made up of the leadership of the three existing unions in the college for a meeting in a hotel outside the college. Workers in their congress had a hot debate over whether or not the invitation should be honoured.
But after a long deliberation, a committee which include the leadership of the three union was set up to go and honour the invitation from the board members not for the purpose of any negotiation but to convene to the board members in the hotel the resolution of the congress of the workers that any meeting that borders on the issues involved in the agitation must be held within the premises of the college. We addressed the protesting workers and urged them to remain steadfast something which is a major requirement for the victory in any struggle. The congress was adjourned till the following day.
ABUJA – Dimeji Macaulay
We were out on 31 October 2019 at the University of Abuja with the support of comrades from the branch. We pasted many posters of ERC and discussed with some students. Interesting part of our outing was that while pasting posters we met some economics students at the frontage of their department some of whom showed interest in Marxist ideas after we introduced ourselves.