ABUJA – The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), has attributed poor learning environment to the inadequate attention given to students by lecturers in Nigerian institutions.
Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, National President of the association, made this known when he featured on the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Forum in Abuja on Sunday.
Ogunyemi said that the learning environment in the 80’s and 90’s was quite different from what was currently obtained, stressing that the environment in most universities was not conducive for learning.
“First, I do not agree with you that they do not pay attention to their students, but you can see that they have hindrances in the discharge of their mandate.
“Lecturers are supposed to do three things: they are supposed to teach, they are supposed to conduct research and they are supposed to carry out community services.
“I have visited a lot of campuses, the environment is not conducive. In our days in the university, we had what we called clinic hours; I started that way in 1988.
“Clinic hours are when students could come freely in to my office and we will discuss their problems, academic and otherwise, it was possible because where I was working, we had light almost 24/7.
“Now, you will see that in some campuses, they will give you light during the office hours, and that is the end, and this clinic hours is best outside office hours.
“Lecturers are not routine workers, lecturers too are under pressure in their offices, they do not have the comfort, they do not have the where withal to do their work and students’ populations is more than four times over.’’
Ogunyemi said that relating, communicating and getting to know the students had become difficult as a result of the large population.
According to him, students often times hide under this situation and may not even come to class which makes it difficult for lecturers to track them.
He also highlighted inadequate laboratory and library facilities as some other major hindrances to students paying attention in class.
“So you find that each time ASUU talks about the universities, these are issues we are trying to track and we bring them to the attention of government.
“And that is why even now we were having a regime of negotiation with the government team led by Dr Wale Babalakin, which was truncated at some point.
“That is where we are trying to engage the issues of funding of universities, universities are now grossly underfunded.
“Look at the budget, not up to seven per cent and in the last five years we have not had up to five per cent of our annual budget, we are also trying to talk about the conditions of service.
“The fourth area we are engaging is the enabling environment for academics to do their work. I believe academics in Nigeria are still doing their best within our environmental circumstances that are limiting them.
“And that is why you still see our product going to universities abroad and they are excelling.’’
He noted that the sector had the capacity to breed quality products regardless of the environment while urging academies to give students the needed support.
Ogunyemi therefore insisted on renegotiation with the Federal Government on funding education to facilitate the provision of adequate learning environment and materials for the development of the education sector.