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2017: Strikes, corruption, others characterise Nigeria’s education sector

In the course of 2017, all the major unions within the education sector had cause to down tools, putting students, parents and the entire country in a state of frustration.

A bigger cause for distress came in August when Boko Haram terrorists extended their bloodletting to students and staff in the University of Maiduguri, killing and maiming.

In the midst of the chaos, the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS lost its ex-president, Dauda Mohammed.

Also, the Kaduna State Government commenced a controversial education reform meant to uplift the standard of education in the state but which involves the sacking of over 20,000 teachers.

PREMIUM TIMES takes a look at the major highlights of the education sector in Nigeria in 2017.

1. ASUU’s “indefinite” strike

ASUU began an industrial action on August 13, which lasted for one month and six days, ending on September 18.

The bone of contention was the non-implementation of the 2009 agreement between the union and the federal government. The federal government later approved N23 billion for the universities unions to settle arrears of earned allowances. The money has caused fresh misunderstanding between ASUU and the non-teaching staff.

2. SSANU, NASU and NAAT strike.

Executives of SSANU, NASU and NAAT during the meeting [Photo: Azeezat Adedigba - PREMIUM TIMES]
Executives of SSANU, NASU and NAAT during the meeting [Photo: Azeezat Adedigba – PREMIUM TIMES]

The non-teaching staff of Nigeria universities began an industrial action on September 11 which lasted for one week, ending on September 21.

The bone of contention was the payment of salary shortfalls being owed, implementation of the National Industrial Court judgement on university staff schools, registration of Nigerian Universities Pension Management Company, NUPEMCO, and implementation of CONTISS 14 and 15 for technologists.

The three unions also commenced another strike on December 4 which is still ongoing.

One of the major reasons for the strike is the sharing formula of the N23 billion released by the government for ‘earned allowances’ among the four unions.

3. ASUP strike

Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, ASUP
Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, ASUP

The Academic Staff Union of Polytechnic, ASUP, commenced a strike action on November 13, ending in November 27.

Their grouse was the non-implementation of a 2016 agreement and non-payment of outstanding arrears by the federal government.

4. Insecurity on campuses

University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID)
University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID)

There were series of attacks on the University of Maiduguri by Boko Haram in 2017 which led to about 70 lecturers resigning from the institution in August, 2017.

Also, there were cases of abduction, theft and molestation in the University of Abuja.

Similarly, in October, a final-year student of Business Education in Ebonyi State University, EBSU, Abakaliki, Chinedu Linus, was shot dead by robbers at his hostel in Abakaliki.

The gunmen numbering four also robbed the deceased and other students in the hostel of their money, laptops, handsets and other valuables

5. NANS loses ex-president

On October 1, NANS announced the death of its former National President, Dauda Mohammed, to a protracted illness. He was NANS President from 2011 to 2012.

6. Removal of Dichotomy between BSC and HND holders in paramilitary services

On July 13, the Nigerian government abolished the dichotomy between holders of university degrees and higher national diplomas, HND, in all the paramilitary services.

The paramilitary services are civil defence, fire service, immigration and prisons.

The board directed that all officers with HND are to be upgraded to COMPASS 08, which is the Salary Grade Level for holders of degree certificates at entry point.

7. Separation of the controversial CRK/IRK curriculum

On July 20, the federal government directed the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) to separate the Christian Religious Knowledge and Islamic Religious Knowledge subjects in the basic education curriculum.

The grouping of IRK and CRK under the Civil Education in the new curriculum by the NERDC had generated controversy with religious leaders calling for their separation in the teaching scheme.

8. Alleged fraud in tertiary institutions

Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB)
Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB)

In May, the federal government suspended the Vice Chancellors of Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, FUNAAB, and that of Federal University of Technology, Akure, FUTA, for alleged fraud.

Also, the EFCC slammed a nine-count charge bordering on N156 million alleged fraud committed between 2012 to 2016 against the FUTA vice chancellor, Adebiyi Daramola and its bursar, Emmanuel Oresegun.

Similarly, the College of Education, Obudu, in Cross River State in October suspended its bursar, Ushie Sixtus, for alleged theft of N125 million from the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System, GIFMIS, salary account of the college.

The provost of the school, James Ejue, has also been recommended for suspension from January 1 to March 31, 2018. But the recommendation is still awaiting Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu ‘s approval.

9. Presentation of 2018 budget

FILE PHOTO: President Muhammadu Buhari presenting the 2016 Budget to the National Assembly
FILE PHOTO: President Muhammadu Buhari presenting the 2016 Budget to the National Assembly

President Muhammadu Buhari presented the budget proposal for 2018 in November. About 7.04 per cent of the N8.6 trillion budget was allocated to the education sector.

The entire sum proposed for education is N605.8 billion. About N435.1 billion for recurrent expenditure, N61.73 billion for capital expenditure and N109.06 billion for the Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC.

10) 21,780 Kaduna teachers fail primary four examination

Pic.13. NUT protests over sacked teachers in Kaduna
Members of Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Kaduna State chapter protesting over the sack of their colleagues, in front of the State House of Assembly in Kaduna on Wednesday (8/11/17). The protest follows Kaduna State Government’s plan to sack about 21,780 teachers who failed competence test. 05957/8/11/2017/Suleiman Shuaibu/B. Jones/NAN

In October, about two third of primary school teachers in Kaduna State failed to score up to 75 per cent when asked to write examinations meant for primary four students.

Owing to the mass failure, the state is currently recruiting 25,000 new teachers as part of plans to restore quality to education in the state. This has led to a series of upheavals in the state and beyond with the teachers and allied unions protesting the move.

A court in December ordered the state government to halt action on the planned sack.

11) School feeding programme reaches 19 states

At Alsarudeen Elementary School Osogbo, feeding time with vendors serving
At Alsarudeen Elementary School Osogbo, feeding time with vendors serving

In July 2016, the federal government said it will commence its National Home Grown School Feeding Programme, NHGSF, in September 2016 with 5.5 million pupils across the country.

According to the design of the programme, the federal government is to fund the feeding of pupils in Primary one to Primary three while the state governments are expected to feed pupils in Primary four to Primary six.

The programme attracted N500 billion allocation in both the 2016 and 2017 budgets at the federal level.

Initially, the programme started with 14 states: Anambra, Enugu, Oyo, Osun, Ogun, Ebonyi, Zamfara, Delta, Abia, Benue, Plateau, Bauchi, Taraba and Kaduna. The Scheme has made significant strides feeding 2, 827, 501 school children across these 14 states of the federation since its inception in 2016

In October 2017, three states was added to the school funding programme with an additional one million children benefitting from it. The states are Cross River, Akwa Ibom and Niger states.

Also, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in November 2017 said the programme is being implemented in 19 states across the country. These are: Anambra, Enugu, Oyo, Osun, Ogun, Ebonyi, Zamfara, Delta, Abia, Benue, Plateau, Bauchi, Taraba, Kaduna, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Imo, Jigawa and Niger states.

The federal government said over five million pupils in 28,249 schools in these states are currently being fed under the programme. Kano and Katsina states are expected to be added to the beneficiary states soon.

12) Tens of thousands of graduates

FILE PHOTO: Thousands of young Nigerians jostled for 11 job positions in UNTH Enugu, South East Nigeria
FILE PHOTO: Thousands of young Nigerians jostled for 11 job positions in UNTH Enugu, South East Nigeria

While tens of thousands of students graduated from universities in 2017, only a few hundred finished with first class degree.

At the University of Ibadan, 5,629 students graduated in various academic programmes from the 12 faculties in 2017. Of these, 186 passed with first class honours.

Also, 8,012 students were conferred with first degrees, higher degrees, as well as Diplomas and Certificates at the University of Uyo, but only 22 students bagged first class.


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