The need for academic infrastructure has been issues of public concern with the emergence of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). For more than thirty years in the history of Nigerian University system, ASUU have persistently drawn the attention of the Nigerian government to the challenge of academic infrastructures faced by the universities through industrial conflicts, negotiations and strikes. To overcome this challenge, ASUU entered a comprehensive agreement with the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) in 1992 and another in 2019 which included the provision of standard educational facilities in the universities among others. In spite of this effort, the non implementation of the agreement by the FGN over the years has resulted in the employment of strikes by ASUU when bargaining and consultation failed to yield desired result. The objectives of this study are to : assess the extent to which ASUU industrial conflict has affected classroom/ lecture theatre, ICT/ library, and laboratory/workshop/studio facilities in UNN, Enugu, for the period 2007-2017, with a view to ascertain whether ASUU industrial conflict has improve the provision of academic infrastructure in UNN, Enugu. This study adopted survey research design. The target population for this study is the academic and management staff of University of Nigeria nsukka. Taro Yamane (1967) formula for deriving sample size was used to arrive at the appropriate sample size of 376 respondents. The data collected for this study were analysed using the combination of inferential and -descriptive statistics techniques. Simple linear regression was used to test and interpret the hypotheses with the help of statistical package for social science (SPSS 20.0) and also for data coding, data screening and other preliminary analysis. University management staff and some ASUU officials were interviewed through unstructured interview. The findings from the study revealed that ASUU industrial conflict has significantly contributed to the expansion, construction and renovation of lecture theatres, laboratories as well as ICT/library facilities which contribute directly to the teaching and learning process. The hypotheses tested indicated that a significant relationship existed (0.000) between ASUU industrial conflict and classroom/ lecture theatre in UNN, Enugu. The relationship between ASUU industrial conflict and ICT /library was positively insignificant (0.119). The relationship between ASUU industrial conflict and laboratory/workshop/studio facilities was positively significant (0.000) This study recommends that the Federal Government of Nigeria should endeavour to implement the 2019 agreement reached with ASUU. This would help to revitalise the University system.
The study concludes that there is obvious deficit in academic infrastructural needs of UNN, Enugu which is undermining effective teaching and learning prior to Presidential intervention. Consequently, ASUU effort to pressurising for presidential intervention on academic infrastructural development of the Nigerian university system is imperative.
Background to the Study
The presence of academic infrastructures is crucial for ensuring the delivery of quality education. These material resources play a pivotal role in enhancing the teaching and learning experience, adding meaning and purpose to the educational process. Within Nigerian universities, the utilization of such infrastructures often necessitates drawing the attention of the government through industrial conflicts, negotiations, and strikes organized by unions.
Industrial conflicts are inherent in all human organizations, and universities, as centers of learning with diverse needs, are no exception. In any organization where individuals with varying backgrounds and interests collaborate towards a common goal, conflicts are likely to arise. Ahmed (2020) notes that workers worldwide share common desires such as recognition, satisfaction, fair compensation, job security, redress of grievances, and favorable working conditions. However, disagreements often arise between employers and worker representatives, leading to industrial disputes and strikes.
The 1970s saw a surge in the activity of labor unions within the Nigerian University system, driven by the extensive expansion of educational institutions during that period. The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) emerged in 1978, succeeding the Nigerian Association of University Teachers (NAUT) formed in 1965. ASUU was established to provide a platform for effectively addressing grievances, protecting and defending basic rights, and promoting common objectives, needs, and aspirations of university staff. As the funding of universities declined amid the waning oil boom, ASUU’s orientation became more radical, focusing on broader national issues.
ASUU, as stakeholders in university education, is committed to improving the working conditions of its members and regulating various issues affecting their job and working lives. This is achieved through collective bargaining, involving joint meetings and deliberations between the union and employers to establish standards and rules concerning internal structure and external relationships with the government.
In the 1980s, Nigerian universities were considered exemplars of academic excellence and a cornerstone for the nation’s developmental aspirations. However, contrary to the optimistic vision of the founding fathers, whose goal was to provide Nigerian men and women with university degrees comparable to those in Western countries, these institutions have been beset by conflicts. The past three decades in the history of the Nigerian University system have been marred by persistent industrial strikes between ASUU and the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN), stemming from issues such as underfunding, inadequate wages and conditions of service for academic staff, as well as the lack of university autonomy and academic freedom, among other challenges. In recent years, there has been a shift in focus towards developing academic infrastructures within the universities, encompassing facilities like classrooms, lecture theatres, laboratories, staff offices, residential accommodation, information communication technology, and related services. Additional necessities include consistent power and water supply, a well-maintained road network, drainage systems, health facilities, and consumables (Ahmed, 2012).
Effective teaching and learning in a university hinge on the availability of adequate learning facilities. However, many of the existing learning facilities in Nigerian universities are outdated and deteriorating, falling short of the standards required for a quality educational system and contributing to low academic performance among both staff and students (Emeji, 2016).
To address these challenges, ASUU entered comprehensive agreements with the FGN in 1992 and 2019. These agreements aimed to provide standard educational facilities in universities, allocate 26% of the budget to education in line with UNESCO’s recommendations, improve academic staff conditions of service, salaries, and allowances, ensure university autonomy, academic freedom, and more (FGN/ASUU Agreement 2019). The goal was to create a conducive atmosphere for students to achieve their curriculum objectives, thereby reducing the number of underqualified graduates produced by Nigerian universities. However, the non-implementation of these agreements over the years has led ASUU to resort to strikes when negotiations and consultations fail to yield the desired results.
The absence of any known studies focusing on the impact of ASUU industrial conflicts on academic infrastructures, among existing studies by Esumeh (2013), Okuwa and Campbell (2021), and Samuel (2018), justifies the researcher’s effort in conducting a study to assess the effect of ASUU industrial conflicts on academic infrastructures at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, arising from conflicts between 2007 and 2017..
Statement of the Problem
Academic infrastructure plays a pivotal role in the functionality and progress of any educational system, significantly influencing students’ academic achievements. These infrastructures serve as fundamental pillars that support effective teaching and learning activities, constituting the essential physical and organizational structures necessary for the successful operation of educational institutions. Classrooms create a stimulating and safe learning environment, motivating staff and enhancing students’ academic performance. Academic libraries are designed to offer a comprehensive range of information resources and services essential for achieving the institution’s goals and responsibilities. Laboratories are indispensable for teaching and learning scientific subjects, facilitating the acquisition of skills that contribute to advancing scientific knowledge and societal development. The significance of these infrastructures, including student classrooms, libraries, and laboratories, cannot be underestimated, as universities lacking these facilities struggle to attain their stated objectives.
The University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), being one of Nigeria’s first-generation universities, has encountered numerous conflicts over the years, particularly disputes between ASUU and the Federal Government. Since its establishment in 1962, UNN has established solid academic infrastructures, such as classrooms, libraries, and laboratories. However, the historic expansion in student enrollment and program offerings has rendered these facilities insufficient for effective teaching and learning. The university faces challenges such as overcrowded lecture theatres and classrooms during lectures and exams due to the surge in student enrollment.
Specifically, UNN grapples with issues related to ICT/library facilities, including outdated collections, limited access to the internet and e-learning facilities, insufficient computers, and a lack of modern books and journals. There is also a shortage of supportive facilities like photocopiers, compounded by financial constraints hindering the acquisition of books and journals. The university’s laboratories face problems such as obsolete research equipment, a lack of research grants, and inadequate workshop/studio facilities for practical work. These challenges have adversely affected the quality of teaching, learning, and research activities for both students and lecturers, consequently impacting the quality of graduates produced by the university.
It is against this backdrop of highlighted challenges that the researcher seeks to assess the impact of ASUU industrial conflicts on the academic infrastructures at UNN, Enugu, during the period from 2007 to 2017. The following research questions are posed in light of these concerns.
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