The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is presently on strike. This is yet another episode of the many strike actions called by ASUU to force their demand
s on the Federal Government of Nigeria. The last ASUU strike was in November 2016. Almost two years after, ASUU members have down tools on exactly the same issues they went on strike previously.
The effect of these strikes on students, undergraduate and postgraduate is negatively significant. Postgraduate students, who by Nigerian standards have no fixed graduating time, have their programme duration elongated. ASUU chairman, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi said, ‘the strike was total and comprehensive’. This means there would be no class lectures, supervision and examination. This keeps undergraduate and postgraduate students held up, till ASUU calls of the strike.
ASUU is bothered about the non implementation of a 2009 agreement and the non response of the present administration to its many prompting. It is quite obvious that the Federal government and ASUU are culpable in the travails faced by students, especially postgraduate students. The incessant strikes which causes the extending the study duration of students in school, also causes a distortion in the learning process. Some postgraduate students abandon schools and face job hunt, business or any profitable economic activity that catches their fancy. Unlike the undergraduate students, who may get involved in crime, postgraduate students have a better response, but not entirely well to the education sector.
When the strike extends into months, many of the postgraduate students never return to school, as life happens, and the students move on. For the focused students, they return to school with less passion for study or research.
The ASUU strike may not be all bad for postgraduate students. It can be the much needed time, available for special laboratory experiment. Since non academic staffs are at work, laboratories would be open and research experiment can be executed. Travelling outside campus for field work or distribution of questionnaire can also be fixed for this time.
Thesis writing and correction can also be done despite the strike. This depends on the availability accessibility and acceptance of the Thesis Supervisor. Using whatsapp, email or skype, there can be correspondence between Thesis supervisor and students.
As it stands, postgraduate students can only pray that the strike is not abnormally long. From recent past, it shows that there would always be ASUU strike. What students generally, and postgraduate students in particular do during the strike can determines life progress.
Ultimately, University teachers who make up the bulk of ASUU should beware of the slow degradation of public university education by the unending strikes. While the society blames graduates for being ‘half-baked’, questions need to be directed towards the ‘bakers’, ASUU members. While ASUU may have good intentions, a nine-year deadlock on an agreement, with many strikes have not yielded any solution. Alternatives to strikes that brings expected solution should be proffered, after all, ASUU members are so called intelligentsia.