NIGERIANS, A CALL TO MASS PROTEST TO SAVE PUBLIC EDUCATION!
FG & State Governments Must IMPLEMENT AGREEMENTS with ASUU, NASU, SSANU, NAAT, ASUP, SSANIP, COEASU, SSUCOEN & NUT!!!
EDUCATION IS A RIGHT! SYSTEM CHANGE IS OUR GOAL!!
Dear Media compatriots,
1. The Joint Action Front (JAF), the pro-Labour civil society component of the Labour and Civil Society Coalition (LASCO) welcomes you to this media briefing, specifically aimed at expressing our solidarity with unions in the education sector, students and parents and to call on Nigerians to come out en-masse in protest actions and demonstrations to SAVE PUBLIC EDUCATION in the country.
2. Today, students have been sent home from Universities because of strike action. For 3 months, polytechnic students had their academic calendar disrupted for similar reasons. The implication of all this has been disruption in academic calendars, falling standards of education at all levels, a high level of general insecurity and a bleak future for the current generation and the Nigerian Child.
3. We in JAF are of the strong opinion that Governments at levels (Federal, State & Local) in Nigeria operate anti-poor policies and this is clearly expressed in their lack of disposition to Public Education. Funding of Public Education is not given the proper priority it deserves, because the children of those in Governments and their friends are being trained in private schools in Nigeria and foreign countries with the looted public funds.
4. Nigerians must know that the politicians (at the Presidency, State Governments, National and State Assemblies), top civil servants, traditional rulers and their cronies of contractors and patrons were beneficiaries of Public Education. Also, some of them set up private schools and universities in Nigeria and abroad with stolen fund from the public coffers. That is why none of their children are in any public school in Nigeria. That explains why they are not bothered when PUBLIC primary, secondary and tertiary institutions are shut and pupils and students have to remain at home for as long as the unions are frustrated to resume without Government acceding to their legitimate demands.
5. The case of Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State is the most striking example. He enjoyed free tuition in University of Benin, without which he wouldn’t have been educated. Yet, the same Governor Fashola turned Lagos State University (LASU) into a high cost fee paying university from N25,000 to N320,000, thereby throwing children of the poor who voted for him and whom his Government refused to pay the N18,000 Minimum Wage, out of education.
WHY UNIONS GO ON STRIKE? IT IS GOVERNMENT’S IRRESPONSIBILITY!
6. Government should be blamed for all the crises in the education sector, including the incessant strikes. The Unions in education sector are not making fresh demands. Each time any of the unions goes on STRIKE, it is because the Federal and State Governments FAILED to IMPLEMENT agreements they freely entered into and signed with any of the unions.
7. The Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) has been on a number of strikes since 2009 because Government failed to IMPLEMENT the Teacher Special Scale (TSS) that was a product of Agreements with Government in 1992.
8. The polytechnics were shut for almost three months because of the Failure to implement the Agreement on the creation of a National Polytechnic Commission that will regulate education standards in the polytechnics, Non-Commencement of the renegotiation of the FGN/ASUP Agreements as contained in the signed Agreement, and Failure by the FG to release the White Paper on the Visitations to the Polytechnics.
9. ASUU began its own Strike because of failure by Government to honour agreement signed in 2009. “Failure by Government (Federal and State) to fund facilities and infrastructure in the universities, for the revitalization of the facilities and academic programmes; Failure to IMPELEMENT the NEEDS Assessment Report as agreed in the Memorandum of Understanding, January 24th 2012 between the Federal Government and ASUU on the standardization and effective running of the universities; and Failure to pay legitimately earned allowances of the academic staffs”.
10. The three non-academic staff unions (NASU, SSANU and NAAT) are also threatening strike because Government failed to implement Agreements entered with them.
11. If the rulers in Government believe in the ‘rule of law and due process’, as they would like to amuse themselves, there would have been no strikes and closure of schools in the first instance. To the class of exploiters in Nigeria, it is not practicable to implement Agreement that includes progressive increase in annual budget of education to 26% between 2009 and 2020 but it is practicable to pay political office holders jumbo pays and allowances. Also, it is practicable for a Senator to earn more than the President of United States of America and to spend 5% of Nigeria's annual budget on 109 Senators and 360 House of Representatives members, but not practicable to attend to social welfare needs of Nigerians.
12. What Nigerians and the general public must know is that legitimately earned salaries and allowances by teaching and non-teaching staff in primary, secondary, and tertiary institutions, are in all cases, less than 5% of the requirement to FUND Education adequately. Yet, the Nigerian teacher and non-teaching staff are the poorest paid all over the world. Yet, the Nigeria’s exploiting class - President, Governors, Senators and Honourables (House of Representative, State Assemblies, LG Chairmen and Councils) earned the highest jumbo pay in the world. And Yet, Education is poorly funded in Nigeria at less than 8%, with South Africa’s funding at about 38%.
13. The government has refused to implement the agreements with ASUU and other unions not because there are no funds to make it practicable but because of their anti-poor neo-liberal education policy, corruption and wastages including outrageous pays of politicians in government. More money to education and other social program like health care means less money available for looting. This is why Nigerians must protest to compel the government to fulfill its social responsibilities to the people.
SAVE PUBLIC EDUCATION Now!
14. Central to Save Public Education is to INSIST that Governments in Nigeria MUST Fund EDUCATION in line with international standard of 26% and make Education tuition-free at all levels. Funding Education adequately means the repair and building of new infrastructures (classrooms with audio-visuals, furniture, hostels, electricity, water, etc) in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions (universities, polytechnics, colleges of education and monotechnics) and the provisions of up-to-date facilities (laboratory, books, hostels, teaching aids, etc).
15. SAVE PUBLIC EDUCATION at the tertiary level means Autonomy and Academic Freedom in the administration and running of the institutions, i.e. students, lecturers and non-teaching staff should be in the better position, without government’s interference, determine through democratic participation its choices of Vice-Chancellor, Heads of Departments, independence of the unions, accountability in fund management and to rid the institutions of substandard education, impositions and sharp corrupt practices.
16. Out of 1.7million students that sat for UTME, only 500,000 will be offered admission to the tertiary institutions. This is a result of inadequate facilities and personnel in the tertiary institutions.
17. The above reasons are why Students and parents should be more concerned to join forces with the lecturers and non-teaching staff that a university or polytechnic or college of education using Stove to carry out experiments in the laboratory instead of Bunsen burner is not conducive for learning.
THE NIGERIAN STUDENTS, POOR NIGERIAN MASSES & PATRIOTIC NIGERIANS: THIS IS OUR STRUGGLE!
18. The only option for the poor majority Nigerians is that Public Education be MUST be adequately funded. The only future for the Nigerian students is PUBLIC EDUCATION.
19. If we struggle, we will win. If we don’t, then we should be ready for crises of bigger proportions, when children of the poor and disadvantaged in the society who are denied education and would have been turned into criminals will one day descend on the children of those, whose parents are looting public fund and neglecting proper funding of education.
20. There is no future for Nigeria’s development, and there is no way out of the recurring crises of general insecurity and underdevelopment in the country, outside adequate funding and compulsory access to Education by all Nigerians, in line with the standard requirements and the school environment is made conducive for learning and social development.
21. Thus, Parents, Students, Workers, the unemployed, Traders, Women, Teachers, Lecturers and Non-academic staff, and patriotic Nigerians home and abroad should join the struggle to accord Public Education a No 1 priority.
22. Most importantly, the struggles of ASUU, ASUP, SSANIP, NASU, SSANU, NAAT, COEASU, SSUCOEN and NUT and other unions for adequate funding of education and better welfare deserve the full support and solidarity of the entire labour movement. We therefore call on the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), as well as the Trade Union Congress (TUC), to join forces with JAF to DECLARE a solidarity Strike and mass protests across the country to further put pressure on the government.
THE MASS PROTEST BEGINS AUGUST 13th
23. IT IS EITHER EDUCATION IS A RIGHT WHICH EVERY CHILD MUST HAVE AND ENJOY UP TO THE TERTIARY LEVEL AND ADEQUATELY FUNDED BY THE GOVERNMENT OR WE ALLOW OUR SOCIETY TURNED INTO A HAVEN OF CRIMINALS BECAUSE EDUCATION WILL BE FOR THOSE WHO CAN AFFORD IT?
24. The vehicle to ensure that EDUCATION IS A RIGHT in a polity where the Government is irresponsible to the needs of the people is MASS ACTION. In line with this, JAF is resolved with other stakeholders in the Education sector to kick-start with MASS RALLIES/PROCESSION on Tuesday, August 13th in Lagos at the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) headquarters, Tejuoso-Yaba @ 8am. This will be followed by Zonal Rallies in Kano, Ibadan, Owerri, Calabar/Port Harcourt, and Abuja. The rallies/procession are buildup towards a NATIONWIDE MASS PROTEST that will become inevitable should the Government remains insensitive.
25. The dates for the Zonal and State rallies to follow the August 13th kick-off will be announced after consultation by the JAF leadership with the various stakeholders in the Education sector at the zonal and state levels.
26. We urge Nigerians to organise and mobilize at all levels to SAVE PUBLIC EDUCATION by joining the Mass Rallies/procession.
DARE TO STRUGGLE, DARE TO WIN!
DR. DIPO FASHINA Comrade ABIODUN AREMU
JAF Chairperson JAF Secretary