While majority of students have retreated from extracurricular affairs(especially the students’ union) in order to prepare for the coming examinations which is rather too sudden and a detour from the academic calendar, some of us cannot afford to neglect the dangers and threats of living and learning in an environment which is unsafe for human existence-a condition which cannot be from the industrial actions of the non-academic staff unions.
Despite the fact that structures that supports living and learning have been partially or totally withdrawn by the non-academic staff unions, the school management is rather hell-bent on following her tune without considering the convenience and safety of her students. It is not only ackward but cruel for the school management to allow students resume without a guaranteed regular supply of water and total blackout in academic areas, also, without the operations of the library and health centre coupled with other facilities which are highly required for living and learning. The absence of these services in an academic environment that houses over 35,000 students is highly condemnable and shows a sharp deviation from the purpose of education, itself.
The absence of these services has caused many crises for students, especially for those who live on campus. One of such crisis is the reported case of a student (sickle-cell patient) who was rushed out of the school at around 1:43am on Tuesday after waiting for hours while medical treatment couldn’t be secured at the health centre. Another ugly experience is the increasing rise in theft cases as a result of darkness in ‘academic’ areas where students mostly go to read, it was gathered that a certain group of people had bullied students into collecting their properties (phones) yesterday night, these and many more are the bitter experiences of students.
Aside the health dangers and property loss posed by the present situation on campus, it has also led to a partial paralysis of academic activities which directly affects Students’ assessment. Practical classes have been brought to an halt, yet, the session is about to end in few weeks, whereas, no provisions are made for the remaining practical classes. This, itself, shows the cruel extent in which the school management can go in managing situations to the detriment of students’ well-being.
A fact we cannot all shy away from is that the genesis of the crisis faced on campus and the Nigerian education sector, in entirety, is a result of the poor funding of the education sector. Against the UNESCO resolution of allocating, at least, 26% of national budget to the education sector, the Nigerian government allocates a meagre sum of 6% to the education sector. A percentage which is designed to cater for the effective administration of all government-owned tertiary institutions, polytechnics, colleges of education, secondary and primary schools with other related institutions.
With logical deductions from the established fact, it becomes a betrayal of commonsense and a proof of foolhardy for anyone to think that the allocation is sufficient to sustain academic activities in all government-owned institutions. It now becomes so dumbfounding to see the extent at which the school management can reach in managing poverty and shift the burden of irresponsible leadership on students. As the name implies, ‘management’, they are saddled with the sole responsibility of managing a poor system with oblivion to students and staff survival. It has always been a case of the management managing poverty while students want improved conditions.
While I don’t want to bore anyone with unnecessary analysis, it is important to connect, properly, the dotting effects of poor funding in the education sector. Directly or indirectly, it is responsible for the unjust and violent suspension/rustication of students’ unions and activists who challenge poor welfarism. It is also responsible for the repeated postponement of the convocation ceremony and It is equally responsible for the dispute among university workers over financial allowances which always result in strike actions while bringing instability to the academic calendar. In a more saner clime, workers of the university should be one of the highest paid in the country, ironically, the politicians who are responsible for system crisis are the highest paid.
It shows the height of misplaced purposes embedded in our system when the education sector is the least budgeted while heavy amount are budgeted on irrelevances. With the obviousness of the cause for the crisis faced in the education sector, then, it is important to ask our so-called professors who constitute the university administrative council, How best can a man manage poverty?
Ag. Coordinator, Education Rights Campaign