As students of federal polytechnics and colleges of education have resume classes, some of them share their “bitter” experiences with schoolwatch.com.ng
While the battle between the federal government and the various unions in the nation’s polytechnics and colleges of education lingered for ten and seven months, respectively, the students were the grass over which the war was fought.
In their various lamentations, some of the students interviewed by our correspondent said they were left with no option than to positively or crookedly find a way of keeping themselves busy.
The students said while some of them engaged in street hawking and other menial jobs, some resorted to criminal activities.
“In fact, some of our colleagues have even died during this strike period. It is always sad to start schooling with somebody only to come back to school and find out that that person is no more.
We hope that this would be the last such type of strike that we would experience in our polytechnics and colleges of education.
“My advice to our lecturers is that apart from strike, they should find an alternative way of getting their grievances addressed. It is not good that every time our teachers have issues to settle with government, they would close our schools,” Samuel Musa, an ND student said.
In the same vein, Musa advised the federal government to be up and doing in the discharge of its responsibilities.
“No responsible government would allow its critical institutions like polytechnics and colleges of education to shut their doors for as long as one session. The government should be sincere and ensure that before it enters into agreement with any union, they have the resources to foot the set demands.
“Even if their children are not schooling here in Nigeria, which is the true picture, but we are citizens of Nigeria and we have right to education. In reality, most of our leaders are not sensitive to the welfare of the common people. This is why institutions like polytechnics and colleges of education are left for the masses’ children hence the nonchalance of the government over them.”
He added; “We need a serious government in this country that would address all these challenges. But before that happens, our lecturers should take note of the fact that when they embark on strikes like the one they recently called off, it is only the masses and their children that are affected,” Musa said.
Musa said during the period of the strike, he engaged in street hawking to keep himself busy and eke out a living.
“Some of my colleagues engaged in some nefarious activities, because as they said ‘an idle mind is a devil’s workshop’. But for me, I was hawking recharge cards and sometimes pure water at one of the military checkpoints along Zaria-Kaduna express road. Can you imagine my brother? All the same, I thank God that I came out alive and was able to earn little income for myself,” Musa said.
Another student, Miss Nafisat Ibrahim, an NCE II student in the Federal College of Education, Zaria said the strike had provided her with an opportunity to extensively read her books, and hopes that the forthcoming examination would be easy.
“We were not happy with this strike because our studies were halted. For me, I engaged in reading my books and handouts and for this reason we hope the examination that is coming up would be easy,” Nafisat said.
Miss Maruf Minet, an NCE I student in the Federal College of Education, Zaria said she did nothing during the period rather than sleeping and assisting her mother in some domestic works.
“We thank God that the strike was called off. The strike was not a good development for us. Before it was called off, I was completely fed up. I did not enjoy the strike at all. I think our lecturers should find an alternative way of seeking redress of their grievances.
“During the strike period I was just sitting down at home doing nothing,” Miss Maruf said.
For Nuhu Emmanuel, a B. Ed student, spending additional one year is the most humiliating aspect of the strike.
“We were not happy with this strike because our programme was delayed. Our parents were also put in a state of uncertainty. Now, the programme that we supposed to finish within three years has to spill over to four years. This is the most unfortunate aspect of the strike,” Emmanuel said.
It is time that would tell whether the students would continue to remain in school for a long period, as the academic staff unions of both the polytechnics and colleges of education have given the federal government only three months to address their grievance or resume on another round of indefinite strike.
It would be recalled that the ASUP strike, began in October 4, 2013, and was called off by the union on July 12 for three months.
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