Tuesday, 12 January 2021

Lecturers are not keen on returning to classrooms even though ASUU has called off strike


University teachers maintain that they can't return to classrooms if the government doesn't guarantee their safety from COVID-19.

Lecturers of the nation's universities under the aegis of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) may have called off a nine-month strike recently, but there is no indication as yet that they intend to return to abandoned classrooms.

ASUU called off its protracted strike on December 24, 2020, after some form of agreement was reached with the federal government on issues bordering on funding for revitalisation of public universities, salary shortfall, neglect and poor funding of state universities, absence of visitation panels, the constitution of the 2009 FGN-ASUU renegotiating team, withheld salaries and non-remittance of dues, among others.

After the strike was called off, the National Universities Commission (NUC) directed universities to resume academic activities on January 18, 2021.

However, ASUU is now asking the federal government to review that resumption date because of the COVID-19 pandemic still ravaging the land.

Most university authorities say they can't guarantee the safety of lecturers, university workers and students at the moment, due to a spike in COVID-19 infections and a second wave of the novel coronavirus.

“Our concern is rooted in the safety of our members,” ASUU’s national President Biodun Ogunyemi, told ChannelsTV. “What happens to congested hostels, crowded classrooms? What flexible arrangements are in place? It is a situation of emergency. I’m not sure the universities can cope."

Probed on whether e-learning is an option for universities, Ogunyemi said the federal government is yet to provide the requisite facilities for e-learning.

“We are aware that some universities are putting measures in place, with alternative learning models,” he said. “Some are even trying blended classes, virtual and physical.

“But these efforts are limited. They get to a point they can’t go further.

“ASUU has been talking about revitalisation since 2012. These are some of the areas where the assistance would have helped. Universities need huge funds to do this.

“People are saying start virtual classes, but more than 60 percent of our students will run into trouble – they can’t afford data or smartphones,” he added.

Minister of Education Adamu Adamu, has also stated that the January 18 resumption date for schools was not cast in stone and is subject to review due to the pandemic.

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