Nigerian higher education crippled by strikes

University mortarboard academic cap on Nigerian Naira notes. Photo Courtesy of Osarieme Eweka

By Kehinde Odesola

“Who takes school serious again?” This was what came out of an undergraduate during ASUU strike in Nigeria. It’s no news that many Nigerian students choose to enjoy life and make money than schooling.

What’s wrong? Several factors can be tied to the reason why Nigerian students no longer take education seriously.

Incessant Strike

Strike is a major hindrance militating against the provision of unhindered quality higher education in the country. For instance, the ongoing strike by ASUU started on the 14th of February 2022 and was supposed to last till 14th of March 2022, but it has been announced that the strike would continue till further notice. 

Therefore, most students give up on education during periods like this. Some get married while others might learn a skill and start making money. “After all, the main reason why we go to school is to make money. If I’m making money here, to hell with school resumption,” said a student.  

A nationwide survey carried out by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) has shown that Nigerians are generally tired of the incessant strikes, while many young people are feeling frustrated and losing interest in education.

Faulty educational system

Defects in the educational system also have an important part in making students lose interest in education. A flawed educational system will generate enough dissatisfaction and dejection in children which inevitably leads to a high drop-out rate.

Nigeria’s current educational system is more theoretical and classical than pragmatic. Its main objective appears designed to produce clerks only. In addition, the existing system does not have any way for the development of moral and ethical values.

The state of the educational system in Nigeria is deplorable and this is due to the lack of proper funding by the government. Many institutions lack good accommodation for students, lack standard laboratories, libraries lacking current or updated books, research facilities, university support systems, fewer qualified teachers, dilapidated infrastructure, dearth of faculty with terminal degrees, proliferation of universities, etc. 

The educational sector in Nigeria is poorly managed which has resulted in the fallen standard in the level of education in the country. The national policy on education cannot be actualized as there is a lack of proper management of the educational system in the country.

A place that is not fit for learning would result in a bad outcome. This situation is applicable to the educational sector in Nigeria today because many of the institutions of higher learning are in a bad condition. Students condemned to such ill conditions face dire consequences.  

As a result of these, the Nigerian educational system does not provide a good learning environment. In addition, when students finally graduate after years in the tertiary institutions, they are still underpaid in comparison to their equals who studied abroad. 

Nigerians who returned after studying abroad are often hired as expatriates while those who studied in Nigeria often get hired for entry level positions. 

Nigerians need an educational system that fosters innovation, allow self-dependency, provide financial security and personal growth.

The role of mass media

In this computer age, one tends to find many students whose minds have been completely poisoned by the media, which is currently filled with information and cases related to violence, crimes, and different kinds of misbehavior. 

Students tend to copy a lot of things they see in the media, thereby influencing their attitudes towards education. Unfortunately, it is impossible to shut down the media industry.

Peer pressure

The kind of friends and company a child move with will determine their behavior. Some children learn about smoking, drinking alcohol, cheating in an exam, etc. through their friends. However, despite the prevailing indiscipline at all levels of Nigerian education, there are solutions and recommendations for such behaviors. 

Corruption in the system

Corruption is becoming the norm and part of the culture in this part of the world. Despite the resources allocated to the sector, they are mostly not judiciously used. It was in the bid to stem the tide that the government introduced the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System, IPPIS, but it is like creating a bigger monster while trying to tame a small one. 

Not minding university workers’ reservations that the platform does not consider the peculiarities of the university system, the hiccups trailing it are too many. Higher education workers do not know exactly how much money they earn as salaries. A worker may be paid N10 this month and get N3 as salary the next month. Mismanagement of scarce resources is at unimaginable level.

Finding solutions

According to the National Secretary of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, Mike Ene, it is just a matter of priority. “From cradle to death, life is full of struggles and if you structure your life, you will find out that in the face of scarce resources, some ambitions are better forgotten. That will lead to giving priority to some areas. If we want the best for ourselves and country, education is a top priority. No nation can rise above the level of its education and if we don’t want to be left behind, we must begin to fix the sector, as the future of the country is at stake,” Ene suggested.

The government of Nigeria, the ministry of education, policymakers, education reformers, and school administrators should ensure that schools are provided with adequate facilities for teaching and learning, sports, and games as well as information communication technologies and internet connectivity.

High quality and efficiency in tertiary education will provide a complete and unique educational experience for the student. Enhancing the quality and relevance of education will give confidence to students. Every higher education institute should perform quality checks and grow the entire community.

Communication is the most important factor in improving the higher education efficiency and productivity. Without good communication, the student and teacher relationship will be hampered, and students will not gain freedom. 

Easy accessibility to the teachers through discussion forum, chat, messages, and social media will equip students to effectively communicate and share information with peers.

Most importantly, according to Ene, “the government should work hand in hand to implement whatever agreement it reached with ASUU” while he also enjoined that university lecturers ensure that strike is “always the last options to be adopted as a means of resolving issues with government.”

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