The current strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) which commenced on Monday, August 14, 2017, came as a news that saddened many Nigerian students, especially those preparing for their final exams. The news may not be much of a surprise to many Nigerians as strike actions over the years have become an obvious characteristic of the system, of which the bitterness lies more on the section of the affected ‘populi’.

The effect of the strike is both psychological and social, as well as economic on the students, their family and the Nigerian society at large. The trend which has been likened to the FIFA World Cup due to its once in four years occurrence has within the last eight years occurred thrice; 2009, 2013, and now in 2017, and at each period either causing a disruption in the plans of numerous students or slowing their growth process.

Education is a strong component of human capital development in which many countries, developing and developed, invest hugely and reap abundantly from. The understanding of this fact by an average Nigerian parent drives them to fetch their children quality education with the expectation of a better future. The expectation which sometimes is in tandem with the Life Cycle Hypothesis [1] encourages parents to earn, save and dis-save to educate their children as a means of securing their future. It is a pity that it seems not to be top priority to stakeholders championing the affairs of the nation, a nation where one minister did not expect his country to win a tournament and so did not prepare a proper remuneration.

The current strike will have several effects, but a few are discussed below:

1. Loss of confidence in the educational system.
Many parents with financial power prefer to send their wards to schools outside the country in a bid to ensure timely completion of studies and avoid unnecessary delays. It used to be schools in UK, Canada, USA, Ukraine, South Africa that enticed our parents and students with access to credit facilities, good learning environment, top notch lecturers, bespoke facilities and timely completion of chosen courses among others. Now, even schools in Ghana, Benin Republic and Mauritius have large data base of Nigerian students, thereby, showing the extent to which confidence in our education system has dropped.

2. Effect on graduate age range.
Strike actions contribute to students’ ageing in school and could mar their chances of gaining meaningful employment after school considering the fact that a year NYSC scheme awaits them. Many companies request for ‘fresh’ graduates between the ages of 18 and 26 for entry level jobs and internships. These jobs are meant to provide industry experience, work ethics and technical know-hows to recent graduates, but willing individuals above the age limit are denied this opportunity. Since many lack the experience required to fill executive positions, they resort to few available options such as deliberately reducing their age to meet requirement.

3. Academic/study disruption.
Students that gain admission to study four, five or six-year courses, without academic issues, sometimes end up spending more years than necessary in school. The time waste attributed to strike actions cause unnecessary disruptions in school activities, puts events on hold or even total cancellation and alters academic calendars.

4. Costs may be incurred in the process.
Whether school facilities are used or not, maintenance and other costs will be incurred. Ironically, in a case where schools are on strike, the costs will not be linked to any productive activity as the facilities involved are redundant during the period in question, therefore, more money is spent in correcting mishaps that could have been averted.

Affected students should use this window period to equip themselves with soft skills to aid their development, improve self-worth, improve their employability and generate income. Seek internships, attend seminars and trainings, learn a trade, find a means to be productive and convert the disappointment into blessing, because the new trend of events will include continuous deliberation by relevant stakeholders, uncertainty of end date, and different news headlines on daily basis which are characteristics of ASUU strike. It will therefore be a waste of time to sit idly while anticipating its calling-off, as achievements could be made within the period.

The Nigeria of our dream may seem difficult to actualize, but it is not impossible.

[1] Life Cycle Hypothesis is an economic theory that pertains to how people spend and save during their lifetime.

 

Jahfaith Irokanulo.

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