President Muhammadu Buhari has again appealed to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to consider the plight of students and call off the ongoing strike.
The president also urged students in Nigeria’s public tertiary institutions to exercise patience as the government strives to address the nagging issues in the nation’s university system within the available resources
Buhari made the appeal on Thursday in Abuja at the 19th National Productivity Day and the conferment of the National Productivity Order of Merit Award (NPOM) to 48 eminent Nigerians and organisations in both the public and private sectors, for their high productivity, hard work and excellence.
The president recalled that he had earlier directed the Chief of Staff, Ministers of Labour and Employment; Education; and Finance, Budget and National Planning to immediately bring all parties to the negotiation table to again critically look at the grey areas in the demands of ASUU and other university-based labour unions.
On the theme of this year’s celebration ‘‘Achieving Higher Productivity through Improved Education System,’’ the president pledged that the Federal Government would continue to do everything possible to uplift the standard of the educational system in the country.
According to Buhari, his administration recognises that the future of any nation is contingent on the standard of its educational system.
‘‘Therefore, if we desire to transform Nigeria into a competitive, strong, vibrant, productive and sustainable economy, improving our educational system should be accorded the highest priority,” he said.
He highlighted notable achievements in the educational sector including the drastic reduction of the number of out of school children from 10.1 million in 2019 to 6.9 million in 2020, automatic employment for graduates of education and a review of the retirement age of teachers from 60 to 65 years, among others.
He further explained that his administration had reviewed the retirement age of teachers from 60 to 65 years, while years of service had been moved from 35 to 40 years to encourage more graduates to join the teaching profession.
Similarly, the president said the government had also approved a special salary scale for teachers in Basic and Secondary schools.
These, he said, included the provisions for rural posting allowance, Science teachers allowance and peculiar allowance, while prioritising timely promotion and prompt payment of salaries.
According to the president, the reintroduction of bursary awards to education students in universities and Colleges of Education comes with the assurance of automatic employment upon graduation as well as payment of stipends to Bachelor of Education students.
‘‘Quality educational system is good not just for the national economy; it is also good for the citizens.
‘‘Ignoring the productivity dimension of education would endanger the prosperity of future generations, with widespread repercussions for poverty and social exclusion.
‘‘It will be difficult to improve our economic performance and overall productivity, without improving our educational system.
‘‘Government notes the emergency situation in our educational system with particular reference to the dearth of qualified and dedicated teachers to enhance the quality of teaching and learning at all levels of our educational system,’’ he said.