Goodness stared as the lecturer ranted about how the federal government has shown that they place little or no value on academia; it wasn’t exactly the kind of ‘welcome’ she had anticipated after being away from the classrooms for so long.
Following the suspension of the eight-month ASUU strike, AllNews Nigeria reached out to students (whose names have been changed) from different universities in December to share their resumption experiences and their lecturers’ reactions to the half-salary quagmire.
Goodness, who is a final-year student at the University of Port Harcourt, said the experience was overwhelming as she had taken her mind off school to focus on other things.
She added that watching her mates in other schools graduate before her made matters worse; a situation she described as “annoying”.
“It literally felt like it was more than eight months. As students, we tried developing ourselves in one way or the other, trying to make money at some point.
“But we had removed our minds from school. It was like we were focusing on other things and coming back to the school environment felt kind of overwhelming because the eight months spent were not within the walls of the classroom.
“Coming back, trying to balance everything, it felt kind of choking and suffocating. But after how many weeks of resumption, we are able to cope now.
“And it also felt very annoying because seeing our mates, especially for those in the final year, graduate and it’s just like you have an extra year or something…
“So, it felt really overwhelming in the aspect of being able to cope and start all over mentally and also annoying in the sense that people affected by the strike practically watched their mates graduate before them.”
“Generally, lecturers have been coming to class though some of them took this whole strike thing to another level.
“Okay, for example, project supervisors, some of them just keep reminding you of the fact that they have not been paid.
“I don’t know how it feels not to be paid for months but it just felt like some of them give off the vibe of this is what we are supposed to do, so let’s go about the activity.
“Some keep reminding you that they were paid half salary and other months have not been paid. So, they are not even going to focus on you or attend to you.
“That’s actually what we’re facing now… And we still hear some lecturers saying… probably you don’t understand the particular topic and you want to ask a question.
“After asking the question, the lecturer refers to the fact that he has not been paid. He has been paid only half his salary and because of that, he will reply with half answers.
“A lot of lecturers are not taking it lightly. To an extent, you won’t blame them. These are people who have families.
“They have responsibilities and they are not being paid cos it’s just like the government doesn’t even feel their importance.
“After school and everything, being professors, they don’t show them respect. They don’t accord them the respect they are supposed to.
“The students are suffering for it. We’re the ones feeling the pain and everything because we are being frustrated.”
For Grace who is a student of Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), resumption toughened, rather than change her attitude towards schooling.
“There wasn’t really a change in my attitude towards resuming after the strike because I’m in my finals, so I just wanted to finish the whole thing on time.
“There was so much rush and pressure because final year comes with a lot of pressure from how to write your exams without having any issues or carryovers that will lead to spilling.
“It was more of tension, rush and time consumption.
“So, my attitude to school didn’t change, instead, it was tougher”, she shared.
“Yes, our lecturers have been coming to class. I don't know about other levels, probably because we’re in our final year.
“In fact, we had extra hours on our timetable. On days when we had free periods, we had to go to class. We even had weekend classes and did tutorials.
“Our lecturers have been coming and they have been teaching for real because our department is more of a calculation department, so they have to teach us for us to understand.
“Lecturers have been coming, nobody bailed on class, maybe not for everybody.
“It’s been a tough moment for everybody because we’ve been having lengthy classes and everything.
“No, none of my lecturers, I don't know about other lecturers, acted out due to the half-salary payment.
“However, one told us that they were paid half payment and some weren’t paid up to half, that there’s likely to be another strike.
“We did have one lecture-free day according to our school because the government didn’t pay their full salary but it didn't affect how they were teaching us.
“In fact, they prayed against another strike because of the final-year students who were supposed to have graduated.
“The only negative impact the strike had on us was the rush. We were put under too much pressure. We had projects, we had our courses, and we had numerous tutorials.
“It was like the busiest time in the world for us and our lecturers really tried their best to teach us all they could cover before exams because we had our exams faster than usual.”
“Actually, it feels so different resuming back to school after the whole eight-month strike because personally, schooling wasn't part of the plan again for the year and that's because I already drew out a plan for myself for the rest of the year, of which school wasn't a part” Opeyemi, a LAUTECH undergraduate student disclosed.
“Another reason I said it feels so different is that school activities like reading, going to classes, taking down notes and all of that have been on suspension for that long.
“And for someone like me, going back to school and resuming those activities was like work to me.
“Although I heard ASUU had embarked on a strike that lasted about a year or two (not so sure), I hadn’t started university life then.
“I can't really imagine how it would feel to resume back to school after that long break.”
“Well, I can say that majority of them came to class (we've started exams already) but then some other lecturers are just kind of different in their own way.
“They didn't come to class but sent manuals that you'll need one hour to read and understand just a page of the manual, and I'll be like, ‘What's this?’
“But I can say that majority of the lecturers came to class, taught us to some extent and here come their exams.
“Well, I haven't seen or heard any lecturer discussing or talking about the half-salary payment, but then they might be discussing it among their fellow lecturers.
“Even my project supervisor that we do talk to any time we see concerning project work doesn't talk about it.”
As one of the renowned institutions in the country, UNIBEN is known for churning out scholastic individuals.
Thanks to the long strike, getting good grades is no longer a priority and Favour relates to this perfectly.
“I am tired. I feel the process should just be fast-forwarded till when I will be done.
“The passion is not there again, not even when I'm seeing my mates and even those I'm older than ahead of me.
“The strike lasted for 8 months and that's like a session. By now I should be rounding off my 300 level I.T., so 400 level would have been on my mind now.
“And about the changes, I'm writing an exam presently and it's as if I haven't written an exam all my life.
“I have forgotten what it means to comprehend, plus the attitude of lectures because FG isn't dancing to their tune.
“Before the strike, it was just a few that did their work but now I don't even know what to say anymore. The students are at the receiving end of all this.”
“They have been rushing us too.”
“You know there are some lazy lecturers. They don’t even care, they just want to collect their money.
“Before the strike, we had serious lecturers who always come to class to teach. Then we have some who don’t care.
"It’s when exams are approaching that they give what they should have given before. Those lecturers are still the same.
“You know that they asked them to resume in October, but they paid them half salary, that triggered another thing. They were angry and all that.
“But the number of lecturers that come to class to teach is more than those that don’t actually.
“The fact still remains that they are rushing us. We didn’t get to cover the course outline and I’m even writing exams.”
“Apart from the fact that we heard on the news that they were paid half salary, we have a lecturer who, although we resumed middle of October, did not resume until early November when they all received their salaries. I think that was what made him come to class.
“He came to class that day and he was angry. He said he owed us two classes, the one we were having and one other after it.
“Someone who had not been in class since they called off the strike.
“He told us he was paid N60,000 and he couldn’t even call that half salary because according to him, they (the Federal Government) gave him what they felt like giving him.
“To me, they gave him free money because he didn’t actually work for the half salary they gave to him, but who am I to talk?
“The other class he said he owed us was cancelled twice before it was finally held after the third attempt.
“The fact that the federal government are not treating them well, the students are on the receiving end.
“After they called off the strike, another female lecturer who was okay before the strike refused to use the microphone she was given properly, so we couldn’t hear what she was saying.
“It was just annoying because the things she was saying were possible exam questions (we had her exam first) and the class was just boring.
“Normally if she decides to talk without the microphone, we will hear her. This is not the first time she is taking us.
“But her attitude just changed after the strike.
“However, we have our H.O.D. who takes a course. The man is very nice, he is like a father figure. He does his job with or without a salary.
“Even before they gave them the salary, he had been coming to class and doing the necessary stuff.
“He finished the course outline I think the day we came back to school and the next week, we started our revision. Most of his classes after the strike were revisions.
“I think those who are not behaving well are doing so because of the way the federal government is treating them but notwithstanding, most of them went through federal universities.
“It depends on their individual belief. The first two lecturers I mention feel they should not stress themselves since they are not receiving the needful.
“Yes, they have reacted and talked about it in class. Some of them talked about it but didn’t actually take it out on us.
“Actually it felt new to me and it felt like it was some sort of stress to the extent that I thought I can give up on school cause of the stress”, another student of OOU student told AllNews Nigeria.
“My attitude towards schooling generally is bad. I've missed lectures and I don’t care about a thing.
“The campus environment hasn't changed a bit. It is still the same way it was, just that I couldn't adapt easily to that environment.”
“Yes, they have been coming to class and have been teaching for real.
“It never for once felt like they went on strike. It was like they even worked extra hard than before the strike.
“As for the half-salary payment, no, they didn't act out at all and they never talked about it.”
“Going to school after eight months for someone like me who should be a graduate. I had signed out before the strike happened.
“The motivation was no longer there but I had to go back because I had to finish what I had started. So, the motivation was not there, it was just forced”, UNILORIN student Kemi stated.
“So, on getting to school, we just had to push through because there were a lot of changes; getting to adapt to being a student after eight months break.
“There were a lot of differences on campus also.”
“I went back for my project defence and it was okay.
“I didn't do internal defence because of the strike and time, so the external supervisor was from another school.
“She was okay, she didn't really give us issues, she was just normal.
“So the defence was normal, there were no reactions from the lecturers or anything, just that a lot of students lost the vibe so there were a lot of corrections in our work.
“You know we left it for eight months without doing anything, so many people came back and had to put things together in the space of one week.
“So there were a lot of corrections and we had to go back to work on our projects even after the defence.
“The lecturers have not really been acting out. I've not been attending lectures but the lectures I've had contact with since I resumed have not shown attitude due to their payment.
“I think my seminar supervisor mentioned it once that we are stressing her and she has not been paid.
“But they've not really been reacting or acting somehow because of the non-payment of their salaries.”
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