News / Africa

No End in Sight in Nigeria University Teachers Strike

Most of Nigeria's universities have been closed since the beginning of July when teachers went on strike, demanding higher salaries, more resources and policy reform. (Hilary Uguru/VOA)Most of Nigeria's universities have been closed since the beginning of July when teachers went on strike, demanding higher salaries, more resources and policy reform. (Hilary Uguru/VOA)
x
Most of Nigeria's universities have been closed since the beginning of July when teachers went on strike, demanding higher salaries, more resources and policy reform. (Hilary Uguru/VOA)
Most of Nigeria's universities have been closed since the beginning of July when teachers went on strike, demanding higher salaries, more resources and policy reform. (Hilary Uguru/VOA)
Heather Murdock
Negotiations between Nigerian college professors and the government this week failed to end a strike that has kept most of the country's universities closed for nearly three weeks. 

Sonia Ashionye is in her final year at Delta State University and she’s supposed to be in school.

“Right now everything is dormant. We can’t continue with our projects. We can’t go to classes,” she said fixing a client's hair at a salon in the southern Nigerian city of Warri.

The strike, she said, was going to delay her graduation and exams were already being postponed.

“I am actually wanting them to call off the strike but the government in their own should do things, as in try to meet up with the demands of these lecturers so we can try to go back to school,” said Ashionye.

'The only way'

University lecturers, however, said striking was the only way to get the government to take their demands seriously.

Benjamin Agah is a political science lecturer at the Delta State University. He said, in 2009, the government agreed to increase salaries, build laboratories, and transfer government lands to universities by 2011. So far, he said, nothing has happened. 

“The best option to any crisis is dialogue. But most time the federal government is not willing to actually dialogue with us. And even if they dialogue with us, the federal government will not implement it,” said Agah. 

Some locals, however, said that the strike would do more damage than good to the education system in Nigeria.

Gabriel Osekene is a security consultant in Warri. He said the education system was already on the verge of collapse, and shutting down classes was only making things worse. 

“They should call off their strike and turn back to school. And then go back again to your own round table. Meet with government. Meet with government and discuss it in your round table - a way forward.  And see how the actions will be conducted because children are suffering,” said Osekene.   

Funding shortages, bad governance

Others said the education system in Nigeria was desperately neglected by the government, falling short of the United Nations' recommendation to allocate about a quarter of national budgets to schools.

The Nigerian government pledged to work towards meeting this goal in 2009 but since 2011, when tangible results were supposed to have appeared, university and technical school teachers have been on strike at least three times.

Transparency International said Nigeria was one of the most corrupt countries in the world and, like many Nigerians, lawyer Gandhi Onyiye said the schools' problems came from wasteful governance and corruption.

“We know how many members of the national assembly we have. We know how many political aides and associates are attached to Mr. President. Cut down all these wastages. Prune down the cost of governance. And let's make progress. Put the resources in education,” said the lawyer.

Nigeria is the most populated country in Africa with more than 160 million people.  And although it is Africa’s biggest oil exporter, most people live in abject poverty. 

The country also faces an insurgency in the north and periodic attacks on oil and government interests in the south. Analysts say poor education systems left many of Nigeria’s young people practically unemployable and therefore more inclined to join militant groups, just to survive.  

Teachers said the strike would go on indefinitely until their demands are met and officials said negotiations would continue. But some lecturers are wary that negotiations alone can be successful because past strikes have ended with promises, and those promises were never fulfilled.

Hilary Urugu contributed to this report from the Niger Delta.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs