The popular saying “Education is the bedrock of development” interpret the understanding of education as the pivot for sustainable growth and advancement in any society. In fact, one can best say the level of educational quality in a country determines her level of pace in reforms and development. The importance of education cannot be over emphasized especially in the twenty first century. Taking Nigeria as a case study, we see a contrary nature in the educational sector most especially at the tertiary level. A major contributor to the educational crisis that has bedeviled the academic domain is the regular face off between the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). The rift between the two parties has made major headlines for decades in the news space along with the frequent strike embarked upon by ASUU. This unabated issue rendered the standard and quality of tertiary education in Nigeria in suffering state begging for resue. On several occasions, ASUU has raised various valid concern faced by the universities before the federal government. They laid emphasis on the revitalization of public universities, improved renumeration for staff members, granting autonomy to universities from undue bureaucratic process and other issues. The indifference shown on the part of federal government over the concern of ASUU made them embark on consistent strike grounding academic activities in the public universities. Consequently, the incessant strike by ASUU has come with attendant effects in the educational segment. They include but not limited to disruption of planned academic calendar or program, delay in student graduation, undue prolongation of students years in school and altering the life plan of Students. This educational crisis has made school unattractive to both advanced and incoming students. Now, the youths have drifted their attention from education to the trending get rich syndrome because they have lost confidence in the Nigerian educational system. The sacred mandate of a university is to provide a platform for impacting knowledge, engaging research and provision of academic solutions to immediate problems of local society. However, a good number of our universities have not lived up to this mandate due to poor funding and inadequate learning facilities. Haven acknowledged that the state of education in Nigeria is facing crisis, there is urgent need to make sincere effort in preventing it from exacerbating to a level beyond repair and project a way forward.
The truth of the matter is that, the bulk of work lies on the government shoulder to tackle the prevailing causes of diminishing standard of education in Nigeria. The federal government must recognize the educational sector as an important area of necessity and thus, should not be joked with. The federal government should display an honest approach in the implementation of her agreement brookered with the Academic Staff Union of Universities to put an end to their incessant strike.
Nigeria continues to witness increase number in out of school children because of numerous challenges in the educational sector. To tackle this, the government should stop paying lip service over the poor state of education in the country by providing adequate funding, formulating and enforcing feasible policies that can may the system better. The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) should as a matter of national interest engage alternative means in getting at the government other than strike. This is because, over the years, the use of strike as a force to get government attention has been counterproductive most especially when it is a prolonged strike. ASUU should exercise other strategic means stipulated by the labour laws to vent their agitation. This is with a view to allow the consistent and continuous running of academic activities without obstruction. ASUU, as a major stakeholder, must recognize their role in promoting educational value and therefore, should comform their operations in a way that promote greater good than harm in the academic ecosystem. The federal government should know that it’s persistent neglect over the decadence in the educational sector amounts to misplaced priority and negligence. Education should be treated with all the importance it deserves and the aftermath will be nothing but all round development both in human capacity and infrastructure. The government must empower robustly the universities under her care to live up to its mandate in providing solutions to societal problems through advanced research and transfer of knowledge. Every nation that aspires to attain all round development and growth gets the secret code from her educational space which constitute her body of knowledge. In other words, any society that pays less attention in standardizing its educational system will parade itself as an illiterate society. Nigeria should now begin to appreciate immensely the sensible role of education in her level of development by championing every course that edifices her educational and developmental status. The engagement between ASUU and the federal government should not be like a religious ritual without direction but one that invigorates drastic measures in curbing the exacerbation of educational crisis and lingering strike. All hands must be on deck both on the part of ASUU and federal government to deal decisively with the issues confronting the progress of education in Nigeria. Nigeria needs change to attain steady and gradual development, and that change can only come from a qualitative educational system. This is better emphasized in the words of Nelson Mandela of blessed memory “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.
Victor Okonjo is a student of Computer Engineering, Federal University of Technology Akure. He has a keen drive in the creative expression of thought and ideas through the Pen. He can be reached at email@example.com