21st CENTURY UNIONISM: A VERITABLE PANACEA FOR NIGERIA’S EDUCATIONAL WOES

Educational courses

” I pity the man who wants a coat so cheap that the man or woman who produces the coat will starve in the process” ———- Benjamin Harrison

For a mind that knows they say, is a mind that’s free. For a mind to know there is a powerful weapon needed to be acquired which is Education. The importance of education in a nation cannot be overlooked nor disorganized abruptly without prior supervision, hence the urgency in providing a solution to Nigeria’s educational sector which is living in its past glory.

In 2011, Africa’s first noble laureate Professor Wole Soyinka described Nigeria’s educational system as a colloidal failure and called for a declaration of a state of emergency in the educational system. That Nigeria is in urgent need of Messiah pertaining to its educational sector is a fact agreed by all regardless of our status, community, or even family.

But, for a certain decision to work effectively, the exact problem needs to be unveiled. Some Nigerians do not even believe in our educational system anymore but rather learn so-called Yahoo Yahoo at a tender age. Some Nigerian believe in leaving the country also as a means of acquiring quality and quantity education. No wonder, many of the public office holders’ children were studying abroad. Some believe in Aluta Continua, struggling to achieve the best out of it while those that believe in Unionism also exist.

No màtter which sects we believe in, whatever belief we hold, certainly the problem exists and a dire need to change or fail. Is leaving one’s flaw really the best way of improving?

Taking a cursory look into Nigeria’s educational system, before the intervention of the British colonial government in the education system in 1882, western education in Nigeria belongs to the missionaries who managed the educational system(primary schools) based on their respective philosophies. In 1882, the British colonial government gained full control of Nigeria’s educational system thereby introducing the secondary and tertiary levels. Then, gradually the educational system was then, striving to attain its peak even without much and so-called SOPHIST.

Moving forward, in 1962, after Nigeria got its independence, there is a great increase in a number of primary and secondary schools as universities increase from 1-5. Currently, the number of universities in the country is 153 with over a 150million population and 500,000 students produced annually. What a great accomplishment in this era of ours to have been able to have as many institutions as possible. But, to my Dear readers, do you believe our educational system improving in structures is directly proportional to increment in challenges facing us every moment?

As the population of students in university increases number of available resources decreases due to lack of funding, lack of teaching aids, lack of infrastructure, unstable staffs due to meager salaries earned by teachers, and lack of good teachers welfare which always leads to industrial strike hence the declination in the standard of education in Nigeria has not yet survived from the pool of blood but rather our government continuing Endorsing new institution into the nation.

The emergence of trade unions in Nigeria started around the 1800s and early 1900s when the British capitalist set up industries in many countries in the south, East and West Africa, and several other countries. Workers who are previously used by the colonialists and are still under forced labor and low wages were used in those countries. As forced workers exceeded their breaking point, they resisted the exploitation hence the first industrial strike in Nigeria around 1897.

No wonder, many teachers found it difficult to afford three square meal a day and even lives a comfortable life.

The food routine is now the reality of binary number function (101). Breakfast sustainability of systematically missing lunch up to the moment you have your dinner. According to Philip Randolph, he said…

“The essence of trade unionism is social uplift. The labor movement has been a haven for the disposed of, the despised the neglected, the downtrodden and the poor”
_Phillip Randolph_

Moving on, the first formed trade union in Nigeria emerged on the 19th of August, 1912, from this early resistance. It was called the Nigeria Civil Service Union.

However, this union suffered harassment by employers since it was not recognized until 1938 when the trade union ordinance was enacted. As the workforce becomes educated, a powerful union movement that includes workers with colleges and advanced degrees emerge. This led to 21st-century unionism. The 21st-century unionism focuses on increasing the bargaining power of workers and allowing them the right to representation in decisions affecting their working lives.

Trade union Is defined explanatorily as a labor union, an association of workers in a particular trade, industry, or company created for the purpose of securing improvement in pay, benefits, working condition, or social and political status through collective bargaining.

In relation to the above, trade unions are associations of a worker in a particular trade such as education, health, financing, and so on. Few among trade unions in the education sector are – Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT).

According to the Nigeria trade Union Act (section1, of the trade union act of 1973, as amended in 2005), the major aim and purpose of a union are the representatives of their workers in the regulation of wages and working conditions within industries. Other roles are to serve as watchdog of government education policy and bring forth ideas about the educational development of the country from the perspectives of the teachers.

The circumstances don’t take the educational system into a rot because it is a legacy we must protect but here we are, poor facilities, outdated libraries, and even delayed salary payment for a whole NATION BUILDERS. Definitely, we are joking with the flame of destruction so here arises mainly educational Unionism.

The 21st-century unionism has devised different methods in winning their right from the government, one of such is collective bargaining, which is sometimes done severally but yields no result before the union embarks on an indefinite strike. The union has taught the praying mantis how to dance, it is left for the praying mantis to dance well to it which most of the time doesn’t, therefore, lead to the industrial strike. The union due strike the warning gong to the hearing of the whole populace and even later, they keep the warning bell ringing without resisting to take action but yet the puzzle of how the situation goes between them and Government remains unbreakable. They turn the whole picture to be shrinking whereas we consider them as Messiah.

To the government, Have you ever considered the future of ours in your agenda or just for you to use us as instrumentalist during the election and to the union too, we called upon you to be our Messiah but rather the issue is now like a breadcrumb, you will first eat yours before remembering the household, are you trying to solve the challenges we are facing or you are trying to solve your pocket emptiness all in the name of shouting for increment?

Moving on, the issue of IPPIS had for long-buried us into a dilemma without knowing which route to follow but really the clarity is that the union is not there for our sake. They are just pronounced words on publicity. Is it high time we deployed our thinking into the situation? The government wishes to deploy a payment system for each and every one of you. But, we only heard about the beginning of the whole scenario and after a long run, you embark on an incessant strike and Students are experiencing dormancy for they can’t cope with the pressure you stabilized on them. Definitely, once you schooling in Nigeria, be ready to spend unknown years in your different courses whereas this is what really arose the formation of so-called Union or is it only you to fight for your pocket without your own future? We, generally deserve a new era where those challenges won’t be solved for a while but rather to off the lexicon of our educational system.

In conclusion, Nigeria’s educational woes veritably have a solution in which part of it is to reinstate this century unionism rather than the one we know off because United we stand and divided we fall. If certainly, they consider the development of all to their then we will achieve the aim of solving the unbreakable puzzle.

However let’s do believe that after this revolution in our 21st-century unionism, they cannot help to solve the challenges alone without the total involvement of the government in making Nigeria’s educational stand back against its woes and also the whole populace. We can all do it. If preparation meets with opportunity, Success is inevitable. Matt Damon once said, “There’s been a War on Unions in general. Breaking up unions, paying less, and providing less right is definitely not the answer”. I believe we still have more to gain for the system and not to break the whole being at an early stage.