Almost one year after the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, ASUP, went on strike to press home their demands for better funding and improved welfare package for polytechnic lecturers, nothing has been achieved while the strike has crippled academic activities in polytechnics. While ASUP has vowed to continue with the strike, the Federal Government seems not ready to resolve the impasse. Now polytechnic students are the worse for it as they have lost a whole academic session.
ASUP began the strike in October 2013 over what it described as government’s nonchalant attitude towards technical and technological education, as well as under-funding of the institutions. The lecturers also cited the refusal of most state governments to implement the approved new salary scale for polytechnic teachers and the 65 years retirement age as another reason for going on strike. They also decried the imposition of professors from outside the polytechnic sector to serve as rectors and the need for the commencement of the Needs Assessment of Nigerian Polytechnics so as not to allow the sector to collapse totally.
ASUP began its strike when the industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, was on then. ASUU has since called off its strike after the Federal Government succumbed to its demands. While the demands of ASUU have been addressed, the government appears not ready to address the demands of ASUP.
It is sad that for the past eight months, students of the nation’s technological institutions have been at home doing nothing and becoming idle hands to be used by the devil to foment trouble.Government’s nochallant approach to the ASUP strike simply suggests that polytechnic education is not important or that it is inferior to the university. The hue and cry that trailed the ASUU strike is not what we are witnessing in respect of the ASUP strike. When ASUU was on strike last year, the government was overwhelmed with protests and condemnation from the public. This forced the government to negotiate with ASUU and meet its demands after which ASUU suspended the strike.
Sadly, such overwhelming pressure is not being mounted on the government by the public over the ASUP strike. We expect the public to speak out on this issue and pile pressure on the government to accede to ASUP’s demands. Parents, opinion leaders, academics, among others should now rise to the occasion to compel the Federal Government to negotiate with the striking lecturers to end the strike so that students can go back to the classroom after being at home for so long.
We appeal to the Federal Government and ASUP to go back to the negotiation table and resolve their differences. These endless strikes in the education sector is worsening academic standard that had already been at its lowest ebb before all these strikes.