As a Nigerian student you get used to certain holidays; you have your summer break, detty December Christmas holiday and of course your annual ASUU strike. It has been nine months strong since the Academic Staff Union of Universities popularly known as ‘ASUU’ has been on strike, and it is safe to say that the student in me has since followed suit and is not with us in this present moment.
If you have not been keeping up with the news, the union embarked on a nationwide strike in March to demand “revitalization allowance”, earned academic allowances, renegotiation of the 2009 agreement, visitation panels, among other demands. Like you, I have absolutely no idea what all that means but since March 2020 all Federal Government universities in Nigeria have been closed and students were sent home. That is all you need to know.
In recent news, ASUU has demanded that the Federal Government declare a state of emergency in the education sector and shutdown schools for 2-5 years in order to fix the problem in the sector and has since urged its members to “find other ways to make money” and students to “travel and acquire skills”. I am just as mind blown as you. They are not even concerned about our safety! Travel in a pandemic?
This all goes to show how hopeless this gov-, pardon me, I mean the situation is. What initially seemed like a voluntary holiday and period of rest, has turned into every student’s worst nightmare. We all clowned ourselves rejoicing that we were on holiday, little did we know.
As depressing as the situation is, is it fair to blame ASUU? All they are fighting for is better working conditions for their staff members who we all know are underpaid, and a better learning environment for students who the system alone is enough to make them drop out, if not for African parenting. Or could there be more to the story that we do not know about? We all love a good conspiracy.
The ASUU strike is only but one of the problems threatening our education system. I love how Nigerians are under the impression that we are no longer in the middle of a global pandemic as safety measures for students in Federal universities after the strike is called off are yet to be discussed. I don’t know about you, but I am not ready to sit in a stuffy classroom with over a hundred students while Coronavirus is looming around like some stalker.
Across the world online classes have become the new normal, but is it realistic to expect the same with our poor education system? Even in our day to day lectures, crowd and noise control as well as computer illiteracy pose as a hassle, so how can we expect to see the success of online learning? What is happening in the academic sector and is change going to come? Most importantly, when am I going to graduate and become a boss babe in the office? All questions we are yet to have answers to .
The strike does not have to be all doom and gloom as I have a few ways to help us cope in this historic period:
- Do not be so hard on yourself: I did not realize this was something that a lot of students were going through. The need to “prove that they spent their time wisely”. Please understand that putting undue pressure on yourself to be productive is counter-productive and will only lead to a mental breakdown because as trivial as it might seem, we are going through a lot in this time.
- Try not to think about it: I know this might be hard, but for a lot of us this is the best way for us to protect our peace and maintain our sanity. Take your mind of it, the last thing we need right now is anxiety over a situation that is far out of our control.
- Learn and try something new: We have been given so much free time to do as we please so why not do just that. Find courses that interest you online, try something that you always wanted to, the time is ours to kill.
All we can do right now is hope for the best, hopefully the strike will be over soon because even though I hate to admit it, I miss going to school. Just like the many challenges thrown at us by our dearly beloved 2020, one way or another we will overcome. This too shall pass.