The fight goes on in Nigeria for the defence of public education, against privatisation and for proper funding. University teachers in the Academic Staff Union in Universities (ASUU) have been on strike for months, determined to arrest the decline in universities, which like the state schools are desparately underfunded. While students and teachers in the public universities have to work in impossible conditions, the sons and daughters of the politicans who are refusing to fund public education properly attend private universities or go abroad for their higher education.

As the leader of ASUU said at a recent press conference: "How could the same Federal Government that, within the last three years, generously supported private concerns like the 6 Airlines and Banks with trillions of Naira from the public vaults as 'bail outs' suddenly turn round to say it has no fund to conscientiously revitalise its own public universities?" Later on the ASUU President says in the same press conference,  "The alternative (to making Nigerian universities great again) is to continue in the path charted for us by the duo of IMF and World Bank, which dictates that we surrender our country and the future of our children to continued slavery. We deserve to be free. To achieve freedom, we must struggle to free our education."

The World Bank has indeed got plans for education in Nigeria. It is at present involved in the so-called State Education Investment Project, which unsurprisingly will not involve the finance needed to provide proper schools and facilities and well-paid teachers with enhanced status and meaningful opportunities for professional development. Instead it will instigate the same tired round of neo-liberal policies which it is prescribing all over the globe. For example it will 'introduce results-based financing . . . establish a strong monitoring and evaluation system . . . tap the private sector to complement the government's efforts in delivering quality education for all.'

This must seem like a cruel joke to the thousands of teachers who are unpaid for months, receive barely enough to live on when they are paid, and work in often intolerable conditions. Meanwhile the World Bank invests hundreds of millions of dollars in ensuring that multi-national corporations can continue to ravage the environment, human and natural, by stealing the oil from under the soil of the country, particularly in the Niger Delta area.

There is a determined campaign in Nigeria to defend and promote public education. This is led by the ASUU, by the students and by the teachers in the National Union of Teachers - who are themselves meeting tomorrow to decide whether to strike in support of their university colleagues. It has been repressed by police, students were killed earlier this year when protesting. And the government has done all it can to sabotage the campaign, for example recently by encouraging market women to demonstrate against the ASUU strike, while at the same time refusing to allow students and lecturers to hold prortests. The campaigners in Nigeria deserve all our solidarity.