One of the issues dominating contemporary discourse is the lingering strikes by the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) and Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) respectively.
ASUP is kicking against the poor funding of polytechnics, appointment of unqualified persons as rectors, as well as the review of the IPPIS scheme in polytechnics and the funding of the CONTISS 15 Migration among others.
ASUP’s strike has now entered the 10th month with the Union alleging media black-out for the first four months of the strike in diametric opposition to the coverage given to their counterparts in the Universities.
COEASU is presently on a four-month old strike action which began in December 2013 and protests are escalating on the part of the lecturers who accuse the Federal Government of being apathetic to their demands. The situation reached the peak when some students of the Federal College of Education (Technical), Akoka, Lagos, reportedly went to one of the classes in the Science Department, taking self-organised tutorials as a way of keeping themselves busy while the full- scale strike lingers. This is just a microcosm of the current situation in the federal and state colleges of education nationwide. COEASU national president, Mr. Asagba Nkoro, had insisted the strike action would continue until the Federal Government reacts positively. He decried the fact that the Federal Government had failed to respond to the demands of the Union despite the several meetings its executives held with it.
One of the issues in contention between the Federal Government and COEASU is the 2010 agreement which the former said the government has refused to fully implement. These include the non-integration and payment of peculiar/ earned allowances, non-implementation of life assurance to families of deceased members, and the non-implementation of the retirement age of 65 in many states’ colleges of education. The other issues include poor infrastructural development in colleges of education nationwide, poor funding, neglect of teachers’ education, non-accreditation of National Certificate of Education programmes, non-release of the White Paper on the visitation panel reports, and the imposition of the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS).
Pundits have argued that government have always treated ASUP’s demands with levity and neglect and that when it involves their university counterparts, governments and stakeholders would show adequate concern and make concerted efforts to end it; that this has been the approach by successive governments in the country over the years- a development that has raised question if there is need for polytechnic education in the country.
Also not spared in the neglect, humiliation and discrimination by both governments and private sectors are graduates of polytechnics. Obviously, polytechnic education is meant to provide technical learning that could help society in meeting its industrial aspirations. That is why it lays strong emphasis on practice-based learning. Industrial attachment, which is part of the practical curriculum in polytechnics, usually last for more than a year for polytechnic students.
Candidates, who out of frustration or inability to make university cut off marks, sought admission into polytechnics usually stopped after the Ordinary National Diploma (OND) programme to seek for direct entry into universities because of alleged discriminatory practises by government and private employee of labour. While university education is theoretically- oriented, polytechnic education is technologically-based.
Therefore, the discrimination between the two institutions is unwarranted. Every sub-sectors of the tertiary education sector, by virtue of the Decress and Acts of Parliament establishing them, has a noble role to play in the development of the Nigerian economy. All developed economies based their development on technological advancement.
These technological advancements also emanate from technical institutions of which polytechnics are one.
We commend President Goodluck Jonathan’s announced proposed personal intervention in the ASUP and COEASU strike actions. The government should address fully the demands of the lecturers.
The 2009 –FG-ASUP Agreement should be honoured. The bones of contention between ASUP and the Federal Government are four issues which are germane to the technological development of the country. Among the demands of ASUP are the non-release of the White Paper on the visitation panels to all the federal polytechnics, the non-release of funds for the implementation of CONTISS 15 migration and its arrears, the continued discrimination among the polytechnic graduates in both the private and public sectors of the economy and during job search, the non-establishment of the National Polytechnic Commission, slow review of the Polytechnic Act by the National Assembly, underfunding of polytechnics, as well as the alleged lopsided disbursement of TETFUND grants, scholarships and other financial interventions in the education sector, which has been to the disadvantage of the polytechnics, the state of state-owned polytechnics, coupled with the continued appointment of unqualified persons as Rectors of the polytechnics.
We call on the government and ASUP and COEASU to quickly return to the negotiation table and put an end to the lingering strike actions.
Enough is enough
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