Tuesday, August 15, 2017

What to do with the ASUU strike



ASUU (the Academic Staff Union of Universities) is on strike again. We have gone from 26,000 LAUTECH students at home to about a million Nigerian students at home or going home soon.

I know what these strikes feel like because I suffered them too. I lost upwards of 12 months to a combination of strikes and school closures during my time in OAU*. I remember the anxiety, the constant checking of newspapers, the false reports of imminent resumption, and the tracking of ASUU meetings.



I have seen a significant number of recent Facebook posts advising (public) university students on making the most of the strike. This one, from my friend Dayo Nigeria nicely summarizes that genre, and I endorse the message. I would just like to advance the discussion a little.

I think our habit of “making lemonade out of lemon even though we prefer oranges” has contributed to our country’s current state. I am not saying we should not make the most of what we are given. In fact, I actively advocate for accepting reality while seeking to change it, and engaging with the world as it is while nudging it in the direction it should be. I think we should make the most of what we are given, AND ask for what we want.

So, students — please make the most of the strike. Learn to program. Learn MATLAB or AutoCAD or whatever software you need. Learn to take good pictures, or to sew clothes, or to fix cars. Learn whatever you want.

In addition — do something about the strike. And no, I don’t mean tweet funny memes about it. Have your Student Union leaders engage with ASUU in your universities. Engage with the government where possible. Show up for protests and demonstrations when you’re called up (and stay safe!). Write letters to and tweet at officials who can do something about the strike.

May the force be with you.

PS: *Thankfully, OAU made up for these losses by reducing breaks between semesters and sessions — resulting in a net loss of only three months.

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