In Nigeria, where poor funding remains a major challenge for the education sector, trade unions and student unions with support from Solidarity Center, have launched a campaign to revive the labour-student coalition to amplify issues affecting students and their working parents.
The campaign, tagged “Education: A Right, Not a Privilege”, will among other things draw attention to the need to increase funding for the education sector as well as an overhaul of the current national policy on education.
Blueprint correspondent reports that in the 1980s, trade unions and the students’ movement formed a strong alliance in the struggle against military dictatorship, with some students union leaders being recruited into the labour movement.
But recently, the connection between the trade unions and students’ movement has seen a decline.
“When I came to Nigerian in 2019, I realised that there was a disconnect between the Labour movement and the civil society, particularly NANS,” Sonny Ogbuehi, Country Program Director, Solidarity Center, West Africa said during the launch in Abuja.
He explained that there was a need to revive the Labour-Student Coalition in a bid to strengthen labor unions’ ties with student-youth organizations with the aim of promoting democratic values and pursuing people-oriented policies.
Ogbuei also said “students are potential workers in the waiting, therefore, building an understanding of the conditions of schools and the workplace for both students and workers is a necessity.”
He also noted that the Solidarity Center was implementing several projects around the informal sector and Gender-Based Violence in Nigeria
In 2022, universities across Nigeria were shut down for 8 months due to a strike by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) protesting, among other things, poor renumeration and call for increased funding for universities.
“The Nigerian government has a deliberate policy to destroy the unity of the students because it sees students as potential opposition to the misrule that has bedeviled this country,” John Odah the General Secretary of OTUWA said.
Odah described the relationship between workers and student unions as a necessary one.