By Vivienne Ndem
It has been a few years since students in Nigerians had to deal with long-term strikes; and just at the moment we thought the era of students having to stay an extra 2 to 3 years in school due to unnecessary strikes by championed by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) was over, they strike again.
It certainly felt like Deja Vu when the National President Of The Union, Dr. Biodun Ogunyemi, announced this on Monday at a meeting of the National Executive Council (NEC) of ASUU in Abuja that there would be an indefinite strike and that during the strike, there will be no teaching, no examination and no attendance of statutory meetings of any kind in any of the union’s branches across the country.
There is some value in ASUU going on strike. They hope that issues such as payment of fractions/ non-payment of salaries, as well as Earned Academic Allowances (EAA); refusal to release the operational license of NUPEMCO; and the non-implementation of the provisions of the 2014 Pension Reform Act with respect to retired professors and their salaries, will be sorted.
It is easy for affected students to get into a lazy mode, where they sit around doing nothing or just meshing the entire time into one long continual nap fest…wasting valuable time and making no positive strides in their life all through the period of the strike.
If you are one of the affected students and you are wondering how you could possibly make this “indefinite” time worth your while, you may want to consider a handy list of helpful suggestions.
Start a Business
There is no age too young for becoming an entrepreneur. Use this period at home to start a small business. You could either sell products or render a service. The good thing is that you do not necessarily need a large capital to get yourself started. You also have the social media as a very important promotional tool.
You could start a home cleaning service or food delivery service…there are so many options.
Managing a business gives you a lot of opportunities to gain a lot of experience with will be beneficial when you eventually conclude your studies.
Learn a new skill
You finally have the time to learn a new skill. It could be photography, jewelry making, learning to play an instrument like the saxophone or guitar, baking, writing and producing music or playing a sport like football, tennis or volleyball. Take the time to learn it and get really good at it. Not only does it give you an edge and provide opportunities for a side hustle, it will help build your self-confidence and give you value for time invested.
Enroll for a professional certification course
The university might be closed but there are other avenues for learning. You can enroll in short courses online or for professional classes that will grant you certain qualifications that may become relevant in future. Even if you do not have the money to pay for these courses, you can go for free ones on portals like Coursera or Edx.
You don’t necessarily have to get a certificate; the idea is to acquire new knowledge that will be relevant to your career goals or aspirations.
Get a job
While you are at home, you might as well make a little money. Get a job as an intern or assistant in an office or company. You can even get a job as a paid apprentice at a salon or creative studio. Even more, you may decide to go for something freelance like writing or blogging.
The beauty of the internet is that you can get connected to so many job opportunities without necessarily breaking a sweat. The money made may not be the kind that will set you up for life, but it may be enough for extra chills…and then again, working would be fun and educational. You learn the value of time and money and attain the essence of work ethic and work culture.
Volunteering is a great way to give back to the society or just do some good with your time. You can volunteer at NGOs or religious organizations, where the aim is to help others and better the society.
You could also get involved in a number of empowerment programs tailored for young people where certain skillsets you possess may be needed.
There is a measure of accomplishment and sense of fufilment that comes with serving humanity. It also exposes you to great opportunities like training, travel e.t.c.
There is never a bad time to travel. As a student, you may not have a lot of resources available for long leisurely trips, but you can visit another state within the country or just other cities within your state. Travelling can be fun and educational at the same time for students.
It is also a great way for students to learn more about the world around you and open yourself to alternative cultures tradition and lifestyles. You could travel to other African cities or continents if you can afford it or you have a sponsor as well. The important thing though, is that you keep your ear on the ground while on your travels, so you are well informed when the strike is called off.
Attend seminars and personal development events
The period at home maybe offer a great opportunity to improve on your social skills. Attend conferences and seminars as well as events. It does not have to be professional or vocational seminars or events. It could be events that offer opportunities to explore your hobbies or just enjoy yourself. Also, it offers opportunities for networking and exposes you to new connections. It could be book readings, slam poetry competitions, meetups, concerts e.t.c
The truth is that being on an “indefinite” strike sucks; however, being positive about how you spin it, could make the time really worth your while. Can you think of other ways students can engage themselves pending when ASUU calls off the strike?