Students in 20 federal polytechnics and tens of state polytechnics across the country have remain at home for over 9-months due to the prolonged strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union Of Polytechnics, (ASUP). Inspite of this, the Federal Government and the Union have refused to shift grounds to bring an end to the situation.
Students of public polytechnics and their colleges of education counterpart, stakeholders alike continue to bemoan the lingering strike by the lecturers.
Miss. Felicia Blessing was pensive when our correspondent met her at the gate of the Yaba College of Technology, Lagos on Tuesday. The student of Accountancy in the institution said she came to see if she could take some of her belongings home since the strikes by the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics and the Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union had become protracted.
Blessing, who said she was considering sitting for the next Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, added that she had lost interest in polytechnic education.
She said, ‘’The Academic Staff Union of Universities embarked on strike for over five months last year and the entire country knew it. ASUP has been on strike since October last year and nobody cares. The Federal Government is not saying anything meaningful. We only loiter around since we have nothing tangible to do with our time. I doubt if many still remember what they learnt before the strike started. It is clear that the dichotomy between polytechnic and university education is manifesting hugely in this situation.’’
The student added that many of her colleagues now prefer university to polytechnic.
Also, a student of the Federal College of Education, Akoka, Lagos, who simply identified himself as Bright, said the prolonged strike was a reflection of the insensitivity of the government to the future of its youths.
He stated that it would be disastrous if the government continued to deny the youth both employment and education. Bright said, “We fear for our future in a country where the leaders care less about the future of students. I want to try my hands on something at least to make some money since the strike lingers but where are the jobs?”
He noted that the strike was draining both psychologically and emotionally.
On her part, a student of the Federal College of Education, Osiele, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Miss Adejoke Adebowale, called for a stakeholders’ forum to address the problems facing technical and vocational education in the country.
She said it was wrong for emphasis to be on university education when both polytechnics and colleges of education play crucial roles in empowering youths.
‘’The length of the strike has shown that students of both polytechnics and colleges of education mean nothing to planners of education curriculum in Nigeria. We are tired of sitting at home and wish the government knows the consequences of the duration of the strike by both unions on the students,’’ Adebowale stated.
A student of Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Ojere, Ogun State, who gave her name as Oluwatosin, urged both the striking lectures and the government to consider the students in the lingering strike.
She said, ‘’The Federal Government and the lecturers should know that when two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. In this case, it is the students that are suffering and we appeal to the government to give in to the demands of the lecturers.’’
Also, the President, Students’ Union, Yabatech, Mr. Salvador Ganiyu, said the strike had become tiring. He added that it was bad that the students were in a helpless situation.
Ganiyu said, ‘’Our government is insensitive to the plight of polytechnic lecturers and students. If an agreement is reached, it is honourable for the parties to abide by the terms. The government is not ready to listen to our plight. Most of the demands of the two unions are for the good of the students. They want a new lease of life for the colleges of education and polytechnics.’’
‘’Both lecturers of public polytechnics and colleges of education have been on strike for 11 and six months respectively. It seems the Federal Government in furtherance of its discriminatory policy has a sinister agenda to kill these crucial subsectors of public education despite their strategic importance to Nigeria’s economic and social development.
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