BY Iyabo Lawal
University teachers yesterday declared that they are ready to resume work if all the safety conditions spelt out for the reopening of schools by the government are fully met.
Besides, they insisted that government must address the pending issues contained in the memorandum of agreement between the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Federal Government.
While ASUU assured of its readiness to resume academic activities, the union premised its resumption on the government’s readiness to meet all reopening guidelines.
Ogunyemi decried the poor state of facilities on campuses and wondered how social distancing would be maintained in the nation’s public universities.
“We are ready to resume as soon as the conditions for reopening schools are met. We have also advised the government to use the opportunity of the lockdown to address the challenges in the education sector.”
The ASUU chief warned that failure to put things right in tertiary institutions before reopening may turn the institutions into incubation centres for COVID-19.
Prof Ogunyemi listed the issues raised in the MoA to include the release of N1.3trillion for the revitalisation of universities, payment of Earned Academic allowances, commencement of visitation to all federal universities, strengthening the consultative committee on state-owned universities to look into the issues of proliferation, underfunding and governance to consistently deliver on its mandate, as well as provision of documented guidelines on procedures and roles of parties in the process of renegotiating FGN/ ASUU agreement of 2009.
The union also accused the Federal and state Governments of proliferation of universities in the country. According to the president, successive governments were establishing universities without adequately funding them, adding that some of the institutions established were needless.
“Why do we need a university of transportation, or that of Information and Communication Technology (ICT)? All these can be taken care of by the existing public universities. So, proliferation of university education will not help us; it is grossly affecting the quality of learning in the country,” he said.
Ogunyemi further lamented that state governments have made the setting up of universities a constituency project, rather than centres of development. He warned that university education in the country may go comatose just like the primary education system if things are not urgently addressed.
“State governments have turned the establishment of universities to constituency projects; every governor wants to have a university in his constituency. This is really sad and if we are not careful, university education will collapse like the public primary schools in the country. So, what ASUU is really fighting for is to stop the total collapse. Our demands are not selfishly motivated,” Ogunyemi added.
He urged the Federal Government to fix public universities, saying by so doing, such institutions can be spinners of revenue generation.
Ogunyemi also called on the government to implement the recommendations of the union based on the Needs Assessment Report of 2012 and other demands of the union.