By Emmanuel Edukugho
Universities and Colleges of Education have been engaged in a hidden war of attrition that is obstructing efforts to liberalise, expand institutional award of degrees and harmonise access to quality tertiary education.
Although there is high demand for universities but limited access while colleges of education and polytechnics are last choices for most people.
National President, Senior Staff Union of Colleges of Education, Nigeria (SSUCOEN), Comrade Muhammad Sani Uwaisu at the 8th National Delegates Conference hosted by Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education (AOCOED), Oto/Ijanikin, Lagos State, said SSUCOEN has been making a case for colleges of education to award degrees, but opposed by universities. Both sides flexed muscles and took on each other during hearings at the Federal house of Representatives Committee on Education.
“Universities tie us down, bringing us back. We have the capacity of awarding degrees. They (universities) want us to produce NCE graduates who can only teach in primary schools and junior secondary school.”
He explained that some colleges of education are affiliated to universities in running degree programmes after which successful students, on completion of their studies, are awarded degrees of the universities that handled the programmes.
“But affiliation is not good enough. With affiliation, there is limited admission of students. If 1,000 are supposed to be admitted only 200 may be offered admission. Affiliation cannot meet demand and our aspirations. Give us mandate to award degrees and we will deliver.”
Uwaisu alleged that universities are poaching on colleges of education as many lecturers go and work in the universities.
“Ph.d holders teaching in colleges of education are running to the universities and after few years are made professors. That was why when a professor at a hearing said colleges of education should not be allowed to award degrees because they don’t have professors, I told him that you come to steal professors from us.”
He decried a situation in which non-academic staff are not included in the search team to appoint Provost of College of Education, and other principal officers like Bursars and Registrars.
The SSUCOEN President commended what he described as, “this unique, positive and cordial employer-employee relationship at AOCOED,” and for the courage they have exhibited in hosting the conference meeting.
The delegates were told that the union attended several negotiation meetings with Federal Government’s team on welfare of members which have already yielded good results, including the one on the review of scheme and conditions of service for staff of Colleges of Education organised by the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE). That SSUCOEN was also represented at a public hearing of the Senate Committee on Education concerning review of the Act establishing ETF.
Among the gains listed by Uwaisu are implementation of CONTISS 15 in Colleges of Education, 55.3% salary increase, 65 years retirement age, sabbatical leave, review of the colleges of education Act to get. Degree awarding status for Colleges of Education.
Earlier, Comrade Moshood Ayeni, SSU COENAOCOED) branch Chairman, reminded delegates that unionism is universal, recognised all over the world including United Nations which sets aside 1st May every year as Workers Day.
“There is no permanent friendship that exist between the management and the unions of any organisation, but what do exist is permanent interests on both sides. Let me say that we do have our differences with the management, but at the end of the day, the rational reasoning ability always prevails,” he stated.
The Head of Service, Lagos State, Mr. Ogunlewe Adesegun who gave the keynote address titled: “Fostering Harmonious Working relationship Between Labour and Government in Nigeria,” dwelt on the need to foster industrial harmony in every employment relationship, which cannot be over-emphasised.
“This is because the level of success of the enterprise is primarily dependent on the efforts of both the employer and the employee, both co-existing and interacting as the prime movers of the operational activities in the organisation on a day-to-day basis.”
His presentation examined some key concepts and terms, enumerated the duties expected of employers and employees, highlighted employers’ rights and management’s responsibilities and discussed how to improve and sustain employer – employee relationship in Nigeria.
The Provost of AOCOED, Mr. Hakeem Ajose-Adeogun, in his remarks, urged workers to always ask questions because relationship between employers and employees is symbiotic.
“On management, all that it takes to manage is to do well and be sincere. If management is sincere, workers will have trust. But there can be distrust, mudslinging, rumour mongering, even if management is sincere.
Negotiation is two-way, both parties must meet at a point, survival of the institution must be paramount.” He advised staff to always appreciate the core mandate of the institution and not take things for granted.
“We should provide alternatives – have products that can compete favourably with others. Superb professional knowledge and skill are missing. I call on our colleagues to brace up to this challenge.”
Ajose-Adeogun tasked the conference, which lasted for four days, to anchor its deliberations on finding an alternative for a product not so good.