–Suspended Strike: Mass Comm Students Count Costs-
Students of the Department of Mass Communication, Cross River University of Technology (CRUTECH), have been counting the losses and gains of the recently suspended strike action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
An opinion poll conducted on them by LinCornellah’s blog reveals that most of them feel bothered about the possibility of spending more years in school than the normal duration of their course of study. For instance, Resame Alobi, a third year student, said: “CRUTECH has had too many unnecessary breaks this year. I’ve spent over a whole school year in one semester. That is really bad. I’ve had plans to accomplish a lot of things and all these strikes won’t let me accomplish them…. For decades, industrial actions have taken us nowhere. Why do we keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result?” She suggested that staff of CRUTECH should “seek another way to solve the problems of the school.”
Also, Magdalene Ofuka, who completed her course of study last session, stated that: “Technically, one would say I am a graduate but in the real sense I am not because I don’t even have my result which would serve as evidence that I have graduated. So I would say as a student of CRUTECH, this strike affects me in terms of delay in approving results. This means I may not be mobilized for NYSC this November.”
Elton Essesien Ita, a second year student of the department, reechoed Magdalene’s worry, stating that “when I was admitted to study a course of four years life span in the university, I thought I will graduate as at when due. But from the incessant strike actions plaguing Nigerian universities particularly government – owned universities, that belief looks like deception.”
Similarly, Kebesobase Ofem, immediate past President of Mass Communication Students Association (MACOSA) who also completed his studies last session, said: “On a personal note, I would say that the incessant strike actions over the years have prolonged my years in school and affected me psychologically and otherwise because of too much thinking…. I detest strike because it doesn’t go well with me”.
Just like Obasesam and many others who spoke with this blog, Valentina Duke, a second year student of the department, said “I get so furious when I hear news of strike because I am being delayed. It is only in Nigeria that you see students being delayed all in the name of strike. It doesn’t concern most of the government officials because some of their children attend private universities.”
Equally, Blessing Ironbar, Valentina’s classmate, said: “The ASUU strike dwindled the spirit with which I came into the new semester and also made me feel disappointed as I already have a drawn out time span for most of my life goals that are gradually becoming impaired by recurring strike by Lecturers.” Blessing added that on the other hand, the strike has given her “experience on how life’s changes can spontaneously take you back to the drawing board.”
On her part, Eyo Elizabeth Eyo, also in the second year, said she felt disappointed during the strike because while her friends in private universities were undergoing uninterrupted studies, she was at home “doing nothing”. She stated that: “I was unable to read my books and this has made me forget the things I was taught before the strike commenced.” Her classmate, Asuquo Imelda Edet, also said that: “I did not read. Rather, I spent time on social media waiting for resumption date.” Orok Esther Edet, their classmate, equally got distracted from her books, as she said: “The strike has really destabilized my studies by not giving me a chance to work according to the course outline. I don’t know where to start and where to end.”
In a slightly different vein, Blessing Clement, also a second year student of the department, expressed anxiety over the possibility that Lecturers would saddle them with unbearable academic load, in an attempt to make up for lost time. She said: “The university may have to overload us with course work in order to ensure that the calendar is completed when it was supposed to. This of course will be very bad for us as we would not be allowed time to assimilate what we are being taught.”
In another vein, some students stated that social vices increase in society, whenever ASUU embarks on strike. For example, Unyime Nkamado, a fourth year student of the department (Part Time class) said that “such strike periods have the tendency of leading undergraduates into some social vices like prostitution, oil bunkering or stealing.” Olive Olaedo, a third year student, agreed with this, stating that: “The rate of prostitution and stealing increases. Even if students want to learn hand work, that can’t be done because nobody knows when the strike would be called off.”
However, some students stated that the strike action has been a blessing in disguise for them, as it afforded them time for self development. One of such students is Grace Eba, a third year student of the department. She disclosed that she got employed as a Teacher in a private secondary school in Ikom Local Government Area of Cross River State. She said: “At first, I felt the strike will derail me from my studies but I was wrong because it helped me in knowing the other part of me when it comes to imparting knowledge and inculcating morals in tomorrow’s leaders.”
Similarly, her classmate, Edgar Bukola, said: “I was able to accomplish a lot during the short break. I’ve acquired so much knowledge and skills and rejuvenated physically/mentally. I’ve read a couple of books. But even though I am grateful for the time, I’ll still have preferred the strike had not held.”
For Charity Anwakang, a second year student, the strike period was a period for personal development and money making. She said: “The strike favoured me partially as it gave me time to make some money which would be used to cater for my school needs. I work and school. I’m a fashion designer. The strike has only succeeded in slowing my pace in terms of when I would have rounded off the semester.”
Kingsley Okon, also a second year student, said: “The strike has enabled me generate funds for my personal needs and fees. It has also given me a platform to rest and build my body physically by avoiding school stress for over a month. On the other hand, sincerely, I haven’t read since the commencement of the strike and this does not help academically.”
Carol Akpere, a fourth year student of the department, spoke in a similar vein. She said: “The ASUU strike though short, came at the right time I needed a break. I was able to do some petty job and earned some money. But I am glad to be back in school.”
Meanwhile, as a Lecturer in the of Mass Communication, CRUTECH, I noticed that out of about 203 (two hundred and three) students expected to offer a course that I teach in the second year class, only 29 (twenty nine) attended a lecture I delivered this morning. Hopefully, normalcy would return when students are certain that Lecturers have fully and eagerly resumed work.
For now, the morale of these Lecturers seem low, as there is no sign of any difference in the teaching and welfare conditions that necessitated their full participation in the “conditionally” suspended strike action. But they have resumed work, in line with ASUU’s resolution on the nationwide strike action that began on August 14th, 2017.
- Cornelius Ellah
Photo credit: Blessing Henshaw, Year 2 student, Department of Mass Communication
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