ASUU, SSANU, ASUP AND COEASU STRIKE
ASUU, SSANU, ASUP AND COEASU STRIKE
Govt Must Meet Their Demands Now
Nigerian Students and Parents Should Join the Struggle to Save Public Education from Collapse
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) supports the strike action of staff unions in all State-owned tertiary institutions across the country. We call on the respective state governments, particularly the southeast governors, south-south governors, the Lagos State government, Ogun state government etc., to immediately meet the demands of the striking unions so that students who have been kept at home for an intolerably long period of time can resume.
So far, this strike action has led to closure of four state-owned institutions in Lagos state viz. Lagos State University (LASU), Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH), Michael Otedola College of Education (MOCPED) and Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education (AOCOED). Equally, several other state institutions like Abia State University (ABSU), Anambra State University, Ebonyi State University, Enugu State University of Technology (ESUT), Imo State University (IMSU), Rivers State University, Rivers State University of Education, Cross River University of Technology (CRUTECH), Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU) and the Tai Solarin University of Education (TASUED) have also been effectively closed as a result of similar strike actions by the staff unions in the respective state institutions.
WHY THE STRIKE?
To start with, education workers can not be blamed for this strike. We place the responsibility for this strike squarely at the doorsteps of the respective state governments which have remained intransigent against the just demands of the education workers despite that thousands of students are suffering at home.
As a student-based organisation, the ERC strongly identifies with the pains of students who have had their academics disrupted for months as a result of this strike. Indeed, law students wishing to go to Law school and graduating students wishing to go for youth service cannot participate because of this strike. This is aside the fact that students lost about four months during a similar strike last year. However, Nigerian students and parents must understand that education is not an end in itself but a means to an end. The decay in the education sector has become so alarming that drastic steps needs to be taken to save public education which is the only opportunity available for children of poor working class parents to get educated.
Describing the terrible conditions in our education sector, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) observed that, “Due to poor funding of education, education at all levels suffers from low academic standards; lacks requisite teachers; both in sufficient quantity and quality. Even the few qualified teachers available are not sufficiently motivated in terms of remuneration or conducive operating environment to maximize their output into the education system. Schools are over-populated and classrooms are over-crowded, facilities are inadequate and over-stressed, library shelves are empty and covered with cobwebs, while laboratories lack up-to-date equipment”.
Equally, no Nigerian University can be found among the first 500 in the world and the first 50 in Africa and over 12 million children of school age are out of school. Just this year, there were 98% and 74% mass failure in the 2009 National Examination Council (NECO) November/December SSCE examination and 2010 May/June WAEC examination respectively! Also worrisome is the current situation in the Lagos State University (LASU) where the National Universities Commission (NUC) recently disaccredited 9 major courses and Law because of lack of required facilities and skilled manpower.
It is precisely this frightening indices of decay which has seriously affected the abilities of the schools and the staffs to impart quality knowledge into students which informed the strike of the staff unions. Contrary to the lies being peddled by the government, the strike of the staff unions is not just about salary alone, indeed what provoked the on-going strike is the refusal of the state governments to implement the 2009 agreement signed between the Federal government and the Staff Unions last year after a 4-month nationwide strike action. This agreement provides for improved condition of service, education funding, university autonomy and academic freedom, which if implemented by government could lead to the gradual repositioning of the collapsing public education sector in the interest of students and poor working class parents who cannot afford the high cost of private education which the rich and corrupt politicians patronize.
Therefore, all students and parents who desire a repositioning of the education sector must support this struggle of the staff unions through solidarity protest and mass actions to compel the Lagos State government and other governments across the federation to implement the agreement as this is the only way to end the strike quickly and victoriously.
FOR A JOINT STRUGGLE OF WORKERS, PARENTS AND STUDENTS
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) commends the leadership and members of ASUU, SSANU, ASUP and COEASU for taking up the responsibility of the struggle to reposition the education sector. The striking unions have already taken commendable mass actions in Lagos, OAU and the South East. Equally, the national leaderships of the Academic Staff of Union Universities (ASUU) and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) have embarked on nationwide solidarity strikes in support of their members in the affected states.
However, a struggle of this nature and against a very impervious and anti-worker ruling class will necessarily be a protracted battle that could drag on for a long period of time. With this understanding in mind, the striking unions must realise that for as long as the strike lasts, so also must the press campaign, mobilisations, rallies and other mass actions last in order to sustain the support and solidarity of the mass of parents and students. We therefore call on the striking unions not to rest on their oars and to constantly organize actions like rallies and protest marches armed with leaflets to reach out to poor working class parents who are also concerned about the consequence of the strike on the academic pursuit of their children.
As things stand now, the Federal government and other state governments whose education workers are not presently on strike have only implemented the ‘salary component’ of the agreement while brushing aside other provisions in the agreement concerning improved funding of education, university autonomy and academic freedom. This state of affairs is not acceptable as it reduces the responsibility of the government to only improvement in the wages of education workers without equal improvement in the facilities and funding of the education sector. The reality is that as much as government remains adamant in its current anti-poor policy of education under funding, the prospect of improved wages and conducive working conditions of education workers will constantly be under attacks.
The only way therefore to guarantee improved living standards and conducive working conditions is for the staff unions to carry on the struggle for general and absolute improvement in education funding and improvement in teaching facilities to a logical conclusion. This is why we call on the national leaderships of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Senior Staff Union of Universities (SSANU), National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) and the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) to immediately renew the struggle for the full implementation of all aspects and components of the agreement by the Federal government and all states-owned Universities.
We call on the Students’ Unions and the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) to wake up from their slumber and take initiatives to organize solidarity mass actions to back-up the struggle of education workers. We also call on the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to organize solidarity strikes and mass actions in support of the strike.
Ultimately, the struggle for adequate funding of education and improvement in workers’ wages must be linked with the necessity of a pro-poor government that can commit society’s resources to provide free and functional education and guarantee decent living standards to all categories of workers. This will involve building a genuine, mass-based fighting workers political party committed to leading the working class to achieve its historical task of taking over political power from the capitalist ruling class and establishing a workers and poor peoples government with socialist plan of production and society only which can guarantee the provision of a free and functional education for all Nigerians.
(1) Immediate implementation of the 2009 agreement by the defaulting state governments so that students can resume.
(2) Full implementation of the 2009 agreement by the federal government and all state governments who have only implemented the salary component of the agreement.
(3) Adequate funding of education that will guarantee meaningful learning.
(4) Payment of N40, 000 Cost of Studying Allowance (COSA) to all Nigerian students in tertiary institutions.
(5) Immediate restoration of all banned Students’ Union and reinstatement of all victimised students and staff activists.
(6) Democratic running of schools through involvement of elected representatives of students and staff unions in all decision making organs in the education sector.
(7) Free and functional education at all levels.
(8) Public ownership of the commanding heights of the economy under the democratic control and management of elected bodies of the working people.