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Thousands of Nigerian students are forced to stay at home due to an on-going strike by Nigeria’s Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). After unsuccessful negotiations between ASUU and the Federal Government of Nigeria, a strike was announced on 30 June and has since then been going on, thus, paralysing the country’s public higher education system.
The bone of contention – how could it be otherwise – is funding or rather the lack thereof by the Federal Government. Poor teaching and research conditions, over-crowded lectures and obsolete university facilities are the main reasons for university representatives calling for an improvement of the Nigerian higher education system. In 2009, an agreement between ASUU and the Federal Government was reached, promising an investment of NGN 1.5 trillion (EUR 679 million) for a period of three years from 2009-2011. The agreement included provisions for funding and revitalisation of Nigerian universities, an increase in annual budgetary allocation to education by 26 % between 2009 and 2020 and regulations on earned allowances. Yet, the implementation of the agreement failed with Nigerian universities left behind without the promised funding. Already in 2011, ASUU threatened to go on strike but did not realise these plans. A committee assessing the needs of Nigerian public universities underscored the necessity of the proper implementation of the 2009 agreement, but calls for improved funding remained unheard. The stagnancy in the implementation of the agreement led ASUU to declare strike at the end of June. The summer months were supposed to offer a suitable timeframe for negotiations between ASUU and the Federal Government, but no solution has been found so far. The Federal Government offered to renegotiate the signed agreement, but ASUU insists on the full implementation of the initial agreement.
In the meantime the new academic year kicked off without public universities opening their doors. As a result, most of the country’s higher education system remains paralysed, apart from private universities which benefit from the current situation with an increasing number of enrolments for those who can afford it.