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Dear ASUU, FG, why not try these methods?

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If you observe, you will find out that most marriage problems take root from the financial instability of the couple.

The trouble rears its ugly head when the purported housekeeper, the man, has become unable to meet up with his financial obligations.

If the wife is given increasingly unbearable responsibilities, out of nowhere the house will never see peace.

Therefore, to bring tranquility to this kind of house, it is one of the two:

Either the prosperity of that home is elevated so that the overburdened wife gets relief or the misfortune of the house is brought down to the barest minimum.

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the federal government’s incessant clashes may be considered to take the form of the above scenario.

In this case, ASUU (wife), an umbrella of the lecturers who oversee their plight, becomes restless as a result of the cumbersomeness of the old system of learning in the universities. On the hand, FG (housekeeper) has become unable to cater to the costly and muscle-driven system.

For headway on this debacle, here are five models, suggested by some respected persons in academia.  

Online learning model

In Nigeria, one of the issues that mar lecturing jobs hence the ASUU’s constant unease with the federal government is the high students-to-lecturer ratio.

By international best practice, the ratio of students to lecturers is about five. But that figure is way distorted in the Nigerian public universities; normally this ratio can go to at least 10 times that standard.

Moreover, at lower levels where students offer one particular course from several departments, the ratio is even sky-high.

So, this, without doubt, holds the entire system to ransom, which manifests itself in the instability of the FG vs ASUU union.

To defuse the situation, Dr. Aliyu Tilde who is the current education commissioner in Bauchi state, while on the program, Ra’ayi Riga of BBC Hausa said in an online lecture the truckload of the old system of learning can be relieved; every student can attend a lecture anywhere at any time in their comfort zone.

Lecturers can engage with the number of students and attend other school schedules without many hitches.

If the online model of learning is adopted, not only the overburdened staff would be relieved but also overstretching school facilities.

ABU distant learning model

Dr Tilde’s recommendation for online learning is a dress rehearsal to the ABU-DLC model.

The acronym ABU-DLC stands for Ahmadu Bello University- Distance Learning Centre. In this model, a registered student can anywhere, at any time attend a lecture, submit assignments and make other engagements online.

The Nigerian University Commission has declared this model ‘fit for purpose’ and ‘value for money, this has led the commission to give the nod to ABU for adding more courses

It was on the backdrop of this success that the former head of the Chemical Engineering Department at ABU, Zaria and the current Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) professorial chair suggested the model be extended to conventional students.

The University of South Africa, known as UNISA, is an example where the model blossomed for decades.

Triple helix model

The government as a regulatory entity provides a conducive atmosphere for research and learning, the results of these researches are normally transferred to industries for commercialization.

The triple Helix Model seeks to bring together these three bodies namely universities, government, and industries under one umbrella for even more serenity.

So with these models, industries that are supposed to be the receiving end of research outcomes are mandated to take away the responsibility of funding from the government. This model was suggested by Prof Kabir Yusuf Hamdani of Baze University Abuja.

Privatization model

In addition to the Triple Helix model offered by Prof. Kabir is privatization, a solution that does not sound like music to students’ ears.

As a professor who came from a private university, Prof Kabir has pointed out the benefits of that.

According to him, private universities have almost achieved the ideal learning system in Nigeria, hence the absence of tension between the lecturers and their employers.

Semi-privatisation model

Public universities are a reflection of the melting pot of different students from different financial backgrounds.

However, school fees are considered to be one size fits it. In terms of school fees, there is no difference between those students who come from affluent or humble backgrounds.

Even though the former pay several hundred thousand as secondary school fees, the latter who attend government school virtually pay nothing.

On this unpopular economic decision, Dr Abdulazeez Yusuf Atta of Chemical Engineering ABU Zaria suggested a relative school fees payment.

In this model, school fees are paid based on the earnings of the students’ parents.

So at one extreme, some students will completely sponsor themselves, at the other extreme the governments will completely sponsor some students. In between these two extremes lie other students.

Overall, the approach improves the government buoyancy hence the love lost between ASUU and FG becomes a history

In light of the discussion above, it can be concluded that the current Nigerian university system has become primitive and costly on the side of the government, on the other hand, overburdened/labor-intensive on the lectures and even students.

The online/ ABU-DLC models offer the opportunity to make the learning process easier, which can even be achieved at less cost.

The other models – The triple Helix model, privatization, and semi-privatization – provide better alternative funding to the learning system.

Therefore, to find the nexus for a lasting solution between the ASUU and FG one or more of these models has to be adopted.

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Bilyamin Abdulmumin
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