Classes to begin on Monday.
The Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union, COEASU, has extended the suspension of its seven months strike by three months.
Following a closed-door meeting with the Minster of Education, Ibrahim Shekarau, and the Minister of State for Education, Nyesom Wike, on Thursday, the president of the union, Emmanuel Asagha, informed journalists that the strike had been suspended for three months and classes would begin on Monday.
“We have concluded and have agreed to suspend our strike for three months and after the third month, if nothing happens, then you will hear from us. Classes are meant to begin on Monday,” he said.
Mr. Asagha asked the Ministers to assure the union via a written agreement that those that participated in the strike would not be victimised and all their pending salaries would be paid to the lecturers
“We hope you are aware of the pain we have gone through. For instance, our salaries that have been taken away from us for a while, we wish for it to be given back to us,” Mr. Asagha said
Mr. Shekarau, on his part, said he had assured the union that none of its members would be victimised for participating in the strike.
“We have given them our assurance and they have given us their own assurance. I cannot speak for them but I will speak for the ministry and the ministry has assured them that if they go back to class, the most important issues would be attended to. And I have given them my word on behalf of the government that none of their members would be victimised for having gone through this strike. We understand how they got into this and it is our duty to find out how they will come out of it,” he said.
Mr. Shekarau commended the colleges of education, stating that a nation could not survive without a solid educational system. He noted that for a sustainable educational system to run effectively the wellbeing of teachers should not be neglected.
“The colleges of education produce our teachers. For a nation to have patriotic citizens we must have patriotic teachers because only a patriotic mind can produce another patriotic mind. And part of this patriotism means the welfare of the teachers, their job satisfaction, the environment in which they work, the policy under which they operate, the facilities available, the kind of management that runs the system, etc. It’s our duty to make sure that all of these factors are on ground; to make sure the environment is right for us to produce the best leaders of tomorrow,” Mr. Shekarau said.
He pleaded with the union for understanding and time to go through its demands.
“Education is about human beings and as it grows it has its own problems. So, it’s nothing new to have problems in the education industry. There will never be a time that there would be no problem but what is important is what you do when the problem arises. I want to plead with the union to give us time to understand the issues you have tabled and let’s see how we can move education forward,” he said.
COEASU has been on strike since December 18, 2013. Their demands include proper funding of the colleges and adequate welfare for lecturers.