Monday, 7 September 2009

Wither Life on Campus?

Hello folks, As you have already known before turning the pages to your smash hit campus bouquet, The GuardianLife magazine, in your hand is the 200th edition and the crave to keep you informed and entertained had been fun all the way. Because of the high regard for the academia as the institution that nurture thoughts and ideas outside grooming tomorrow’s leaders, Life, in its 138th edition of April 6, 2008, set up store by the numerous campuses with the introduction of Life Campus, to mirror the happenings in the various universities. Students are the life-wire of any university; they make the university what it is. Their conducts and characters give the university its uniqueness. This is why in commemoration of this landmarking edition of your soar-away Life, we shall be airing your views on the on-goings between the Federal Government and the three tiers of labour unions — ASUU, NASU and SSANU — that have strangulated Life on Campus. Happy reading! — Tope Templer Olaiya

Union leader urges ASUU/FG to settle differences
BY ABRAHAM OLADIPUPO THE President of National Association of Edo State Students (NAESS), Comrade Theophilus Adolphus Ibodeme, has called on government and Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Non Academic Staff Union (NASU) and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) to settle their differences in the interest of students. Speaking at a media briefing in Benin tagged ASUU Strike: Lasting Solution Through The Roundtable, Ibodeme stated that the on-going strike has turned students to loafers and inflicted psychological injury in many of them and their parents. “You can imagine a situation where students, who are supposed to graduate after a four-year programme, are still in school, waiting to finish after six years due to incessant strikes. Many finalists that are supposed to have finished their final papers cannot meet up with call-up time to NYSC. “Many of the female students have turned to prostitution, among other social vices due to this indefinite industrial action. He called on government to dialogue with the aggrieved workers as ASUU recently disclosed its readiness to sit at the roundtable with the government. He also appealed to other bodies on campus to resolve their grievances in the interest of Nigerian students.

ASUU president visits UI, urges members to remain committed to strike
THE President of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof. Ukachukwu Awuzie, visited the University of Ibadan on Thursday, August 20, to brief members on the ongoing strike. Addressing lecturers, Awuzie said: “ASUU wish to put the ongoing strike to rest, even in the next one week, but not at the detriment of proper funding of education. When people talk about us, they forget we also have our children in these universities, since we cannot afford to send them abroad. The power to call off the strike is not with me or the president, but with the National Executive Council, which had warned him not to call off the strike until the agreement is signed.” He narrated how the government’s negotiating team turned themselves into a law court by adjourning meeting on several occasion while they went ahead to misinform the public that ASUU was not ready to negotiate. Awuzie advised members to show commitment to the cause, as the fight was not aimed at destroying, but at building a future for the nation’s educational sector. Members who attended the meeting commended the president and his team, while promising to stand by them.

‘Pull out of strikes or else …’
BY DAYO ADESINA PETERS STUDENTS of the University of Ibadan, at the last stakeholders’ meeting held on August 18, at the Students Representative Council (SRC) Chambers, have unanimously agreed that the school should pull out of the ongoing strikes because the authorities had already promised students, while embarking on a six months compulsory break in 2007, that it would regularise its calendar to run from September to May and that it would not join any strike that may jeopardise the calendar. The students also noted that admission into Law School is once a year and that if the university does not pull out of the present strike embarked on, the present final year students of the Faculty of Law would have to miss a whole year and even the next, as the backlog of admission would be too much that some of them may have to wait till 2011. In the same vein, the students urged the university authorities to consider the plight of the final year students, who are supposed to go for the National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) scheme by November, saying if the school fails to pull out of the strike, it will have a destabilising effect on the whole set and even translate into their waiting till next year before they are mobilised for youth service. The Student Union Transition Committee, a body standing for the Students’ Union Government in the University of Ibadan, therefore, warned the school to pull out of the strike or else face a peaceful demonstration by the whole students of the university to drive home their demand.

The pains of staying home?
FOR many students, the acronym ASUU is now synonymous with strike. Some of them don’t even know the exact meaning of the acronym or the functions of the body. Though they understand and feel the plights of these lecturers, the truth is that they are the ones bearing the pains.
Imagine final year students, who are already counting their days and already looking forward to leaving school; what happens to them? ASUU has elongated their stay. This has also affected those going for their Industrial Training. While the affected students are praying for the strike to be called off, their counterparts in the private universities are silently wishing them the opposite. ASUU strike has made a lot of people idle, thus stimulating criminality among the students. Remember the saying, “an idle hand is the devil’s workshop”. Considering the huge number of eligible unemployed in Nigeria, no firm will ever think of giving work to someone whose institution is on indefinite strike and can be called back to school at anytime. Even when parents are advised to allow their ‘striked’ children to do something reasonable and lucrative at this crucial period, their hopes hang on the uncertainty of time, since no one seems to know when the strike would be called off. PHCN too is not helping matters as boredom fills the air and there is nothing to keep one busy. And to those who have been struck by ASUU out there, don’t stop praying and don’t stop reading either because neither your complaints nor your protests can change the present situation, but talking to the President of the Universe will do much good.

Strange happenings at Lead City University

MY sister rushed home crying, attracting the attention of every member of the family and on our demand to know her misgiving; we became dumbfounded on her revelation. We had expected her to be part of the NYSC early this year. That didn’t happen, as her school, Lead City University, Ibadan, had a backlog of students awaiting call-up. We all consoled her going by the words of the university and; considering that she had completed her academic requirements, she would be mobilised for the scheme later this year perhaps with the first batch or at most with July Batch. Alas, we were off the mark; the crisis went deeper. She revealed to us that the university authorities had issued a statement that most of, if not all, the 100 level results were missing. As a result, the students would have to retake those courses with each student paying N50, 000 per course before they can be considered for graduation and subsequently participate in the NYSC scheme. There are questions that must be answered. First, whose responsibility is it to keep academic records? Could this be a rhetorical question? Secondly, didn’t the university release those results in that session? Yes, they did. This raises questions on what money being charged is meant for. Is it for allotting marks? Also, what is the role of National Universities Commission (NUC) in this embarrassing matter? This ugly development goes beyond mere exploitation of the poor by the rich, but further shows that private university is not a solution to the decay in the education sector. It also reveals that no amount of money paid by individuals or parents can adequately fund quality education. THE fact is that most of these private universities that have mushroomed over the decaying public education are substandard and “cash and carry” institutions, or at best glorified secondary schools. They lack adequate facilities for quality learning and are grossly understaffed. They rely on the part-time services of teachers from the public universities. I, indeed, reliably gathered that most of the lecturers who taught the courses in question have left the university for better conditions of service. The prevailing exploitation in private universities and without a corresponding output in terms of quality of graduates proves that only the UNECSO prescribed standard on public funded education, 26 per cent budgetary allocation, could be enough to save education. Incidentally, Nigeria is a signatory to UNESCO charter, but to our successive governments, it is nothing but a mere chatter. ON a conclusive note, I here appeal passionately to the Ministry of Education and the NUC to prevail on the school’s authorities to immediately refund the illicit, unjustified money collected from the helpless and hapless students who are desperate to graduate and be mobilised for NYSC scheme. Weep not my beloved sister, justice shall be done soonest! Opeyemi, Lagos.

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