Monday, February 6, 2023

Chidi Okereke: Seven ways ASUU strikes have impacted this generation

In a society with dwindling economic growth and limited opportunities, education is key to elevating people and building wealth.

• October 15, 2022
Student used to illustrate the story

Nigerians in Nigeria have been through a lot in recent years. The nation is currently immersed in what is essentially an economic crisis, and it shows no signs of letting up. Insecurity is high, floods have basically submerged some regions and a food crisis is looming. But amidst this, the fact that Nigerian students have been at home for eight whole months is ludicrous. In a society with dwindling economic growth and limited opportunities, education is key to elevating people and building wealth. However, while the world was celebrating Valentine’s Day, the Academic Staff Union of Universities aka ASUU gifted Nigerian students with a strike that has only just been called off today, October 14, 2022.

The 16th strike since 1999, and second longest ASUU strike ever, the negative impact of the strikes cannot be overemphasized. To paint a clear picture of how bad it is, see seven ways ASUU strikes have messed things up for us as a generation, and as a nation.

  1. Affects the Mental Health of Students

Tertiary education in Nigeria, unlike some parts of the world, is a full-time gig. To survive daily in a Nigerian institution, a student must have the mental strength of a fighter. Most students seek solace in the fixed amount of time they have to study and the reward associated with graduating. However, ASUU strikes pile more pressure on these students because their life is in limbo as they can’t make any concrete plan on what to do due to the forced free time. Many students have missed life-changing opportunities because of these strikes, which have a toll on their mental health. Uncertainty about the resumption date/when ASUU is going on the next strike has caused many students panic, anxiety, and stress.

  1. Brain Drain

This generation continues to lose its brightest mind to developed societies that can provide them with the necessary amenities to thrive and excel. Due to the constant striking of ASUU, Nigerians that can afford to study outside the country have moved out, leading to a massive brain drain. The significant impact of this brain drain is that current and future innovators who can help solve some of the raging problems affecting the country have been forced out by the lazy nature of those that are supposed to lead them. Young Nigerians have had to seek greener pastures elsewhere, with some risking their lives in the process. Also, they contribute to their host nation’s development while their country dives into a shithole.

  1. Reducing Interest in Education

The endless ASUU strike has discouraged students from pursuing education wholeheartedly. They would instead pursue other means to earn a livelihood or see education as a part-time gig. As a generation known for raising its voice on any social issue that affects them, one can attribute the waning interest in education to the economic condition of the country as perceived by this generation, which can be seen in how they barely protested the ASUU strike.

  1. Crime

There is a nexus between increased crimes like internet fraud and ASUU strikes. The increased free time some young people get due to the closure of schools is the perfect opportunity to be recruited/join cyber-crime syndicates. This doesn’t mean ASUU is solely responsible for this issue; however, many of these individuals may have sought a different path if they stayed in school.

  1. Waste of resources

Every ASUU strike means a waste of resources for students already on a slim budget. Rents, feeding allowances, and time go to waste because of these strikes, and the students and their providers have to bear the loss.

  1. Reduced Quality of Education

Schools must find a way to complete the current academic session after each strike. This means a rush semester/session, which ultimately reduces the quality of education the students get. Because students have been away for a long time, this rushed return affects the quality of education they get and consequently impacts their future. In a globalized world with endless opportunities, young Nigerians’ quality of education is putting them on the back foot and making it harder to compete with global talents.

  1. Missed Opportunities 

ASUU strikes mean extra year(s), which means windows of opportunities are closing to young Nigerians. Delayed graduation means some individuals cannot access specific internships or job applications with age or time limits that would have impacted their lives profoundly. On average, a course that should take four years might take Nigerian students an extra 12 to 24 months to compete. These delayed graduations are leading to missed opportunities for young Nigerians, making it hard to make a living and, in many cases, further pushing them down the poverty line.

These are not the only ways ASUU has negatively impacted us, but you get the picture. As students return to school, we must collectively ensure it is a thing of the past. We must organize (think of a body like ASUU, but one that favors students and families), we must pressurize the government to prioritize education, and we must most importantly, vote right. 

Chidi Okereke writes from Lagos. You can reach him on Twitter via @Chydee 

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