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University Teachers in Nigeria Suspend Strike


Nigerian university teachers have called off their three-month strike. Gilbert da Costa in Abuja has more for VOA in this report.

The Academic Staff Union of Universities, the ASUU, a representative body for teachers of state-owned universities in Nigeria, says the strike was suspended to give the new Nigerian administration a chance to address its grievances.

Union president Abdullahi Sule-Kano says President Umaru Yar'Adua's personal intervention and appeals from the public also weighed in on reaching a decision to call off the action. He said the government has agreed to address some of the issues the teachers raised.

The union says the federal authorities have failed to implement an agreement reached in 2001 to improve education standards and work conditions.

Nigerian universities, like most public institutions in the oil-rich West African nation, have suffered from years of neglect.

Class sizes are often in the hundreds and the number of teachers has fallen. Motivation is low, as many students say they believe only those who can afford to pay bribes to teachers end up with higher grades.

Usmam Mohammed is a professor of political science at the University of Abuja and tells VOA some of the problems bedeviling university education in Nigeria.

"The challenges are so many. You have challenges of infrastructures, whereby admissions are done without due consideration of the fact that the facilities are overstretched. Come to the University of Abuja and inspect the classes," he said. "Take the ratio of students per lecturer; you will understand how stressful and how unconducive the environment has been for teaching and learning. The students are living like prisoners in their hostels."

The poor state of the education system has compelled many university teachers to leave for better opportunities elsewhere.

There are more than 40 universities in Nigeria owned by federal and state governments.

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