Amidst the ASUU strike, tech communities are springing up across Nigerian universities
Cowrywise and Ingressive for Good are at the forefront of creating a tech talent pipeline through their campus ambassador programmes across Nigerian universities.
After shutting down public universities across Nigeria for six months, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has declared an indefinite strike effective from Monday, August 29, 2022.
Interning at Cowrywise and leading a design team.
If not for the continued strike by the (ASUU) that has thrown several students across Nigerian public universities out of school, Hannah Olaniyi would have been a final year student of Biology Education at the University of Lagos.
Despite the delay caused by the strike, Hannah is finding hope through the Cowrywise ambassador program—a national experiential learning program that empowers students with the tools needed to learn and cultivate personal financial management skills very early in life.
"I didn't really know what to expect from the program, but it sounded like it was going to be beneficial to me as a student. So, I applied and got selected," Hannah told Benjamindada.com. "I was fortunate to have interned at Cowrywise, and the experience helped me to broaden my skills, it also helped me get better at designing and I met a lot of amazing people, and I got to have hands-on experience working in a fintech."
Hannah is currently leading a team of 40 designers (Cowrywise ambassadors team) across different Nigerian universities, a role which she said has strengthened her leadership and collaborative skills and helped her be a better designer. Hannah is currently a product designer and a Women Techsters fellow.
According to Michael Oladele, a Growth Marketing Associate at Cowrywise, "skill acquisition is very needed in the internet age where skills which are not taught in schools are required in the job market." To achieve this, Cowrywise has created skill-based communities within the programme to enable these students to learn.
Although not only public university students who have been affected by the ASUU strike are part of the programme, it has been of great relevance helping others to pivot into tech careers. Hannah is one of over 3000 campus ambassadors presently in 90 institutions across the 6 geo-political zones in Nigeria that have been able to build skills while collaborating in communities virtually/on-site.
Oladele said that "the primary goal of the ambassadors' program is to have a generation of Nigerian students who are passionate about personal finance and career development. So every other semester, we open applications for Nigerian tertiary students to join us in raising this generation."
From being an I4G ambassador in Nigeria's North East to a Rwanda trip
While Hannah is based in South Western Nigeria, Muhammad Tajudeen, a final year student of computer science at the Modibbo Adama University, Yola in North East Nigeria is one of the 100+ Ingressive For Good Ambassadors in Nigeria and Ghana.
Related Article: Ingressive for Good leads the charge to build the pipeline of tech talent in Africa
Tajudeen would have been a graduate now if not for the strike. When ASUU went on the warning strike Strike in February 2022, Tajudeen said "I started leveraging the ton of resources I4G has been sharing with us," as the I4G Lead Ambassador for his campus, he used the strike as an opportunity to recruit more members into the I4G community for learning and networking.
"I have achieved a lot more during this strike than any other time even while I was at school," Tajudeen told Benjamindada.com. Due to his commitment to learning and building a community, I4G selected Tajudeen amongst other students for a trip to Rwanda where they were taught about virtual reality (VR).
"I had the opportunity to travel to Rwanda during this strike where I met a lot of people and connected with international networks, and most importantly, I found my calling; I am trying out a new career in AR/VR focused on the education sector for the SDG Goals," he said.
Tajudeen volunteers at a secondary school in Yola where he is introducing the students to the Metaverse and how to use spatial applications to create a virtual environment.
"I’m super proud of the community and how they have been able to make lemonades out of the lemon that is the ASUU strike. A couple of weeks back, they talked about the things they have achieved during the strike and some of the benefits that it has had on their tech careers," Haneefah Abdurrahman, Programs and Community Manager at I4G said.
We’re aware of the strike and we ensure our community members are occupied and help them find purpose like starting a new career in tech. This gives them hope. — Haneefah.
Why is ASUU on strike?
Strikes at Nigerian public universities are not a new development, the current strike that began on February 14, 2022, is the 16th of such strike within the past 23 years.
The continuity of these strikes is due to the inability of the government to adequately fulfil its agreement with the lecturers' union including funding for the revitalisation of public universities.
It's also a protest against the alleged imposition of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) by the government on ASUU, instead of the Universities Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS)—according to ASUU, this constitutes 75% of the problem within the Nigerian university system.