In what seems like an unending and a discouraging battle on the federal government’s effort to bring back Nigerian students to the classroom, the Academic Staff Union of Universities has sent a serious signal differing with federal government views and plans.
The Union has explained that Nigerian Universities may not align with federal government view on reopening schools even if they (FG) order the resumption of schools across the nation amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
The President of the Union, Mr. Biodun Ogunyemi, disclosed the surprising stand and position of his union on Sunday July 19, 2020, stretching that they have urged the federal government not to reopen schools until 2021.
It will be recalled that the federal government on March 19, 2020, ordered the speedy closure of all tertiary, secondary and primary schools nationwide following the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus in the country.
In few days after the federal government decision for school closure in the interest of Nigerian students, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), commenced their indefinite strike which has lingered till date.
Their commencement of the industrial action was born out of the anger on the part of federal government decision to withhold the salaries of its members that defied the order of government to enroll in the Integrated Personnel and Payroll system (IPPIS).
In the government’s renewed effort to reopen schools through the issuance of guidelines, ASUU has refused to play along with federal government plan.
The Union’s position as stated by her president, is not that schools should not be reopened, but it should be reopened when it is considered to be safe for the children.
While decrying federal government’s move towards paper plans on school resumption, the union is concerned about its implementation for the benefit of Nigerian students especially in meeting up with the challenge that the pandemic has brought.
The union therefore reechoed concerns on the outstanding issues bedeviling Nigerian educational system which the federal government has failed to fix and provide enabling environment such as revitalization of schools and equipping it to international standard specially to give room to the new normal where schools are to operate under certain conditions.
The issue of learning under the condition of social distancing, demands for additional lecture rooms, which is part of ASUU demand alongside other physical infrastructures that will support a realistic operation of school administrators safely which forms ASUU agitation without which they will not agree on school reopening.
While it is known that ASUU is taking a good step and decision in respect to schools across Nigeria which demand federal government’s immediate response to possibly set up a similar response team or taskforce with that of COVID-19 taskforce, to revamp our educational sector, it must be made known that Nigerian students suffers the brunt.
It is very clear that the students are at the receiving end of this indecisiveness as they are left idle at home with nothing worthwhile being done to ensure that these students resume classes and continue with their education for a better tomorrow.
Federal government closed schools for the interest of the students, they should equally reconsider their steps and do the needful to allow schools to resume by putting in place the necessary infrastructure to meet up with the stipulated guidelines, while ASUU should as well shield their sword and achieve their demands gradually.
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