By; AMOS TAUNA, Kaduna
Maina Zazzau Communication Committee has noted that the recent threat to disengage 21,780 public primary school teachers in Kaduna State under the guise of education sector reforms is a huge setback to the rule of law and natural justice.
A statement issued by the secretary of the committee, Ibrahim Adamu Zango, made available to newsmen in Kaduna, “Coming during a deep recession and a period characterized by high unemployment especially among the youth, it is also a recipe for the total breakdown of law and order as well as the onset of chaos. It is an act completely bereft of humility and the milk of human kindness, no matter the good intentions that may have informed it.
“Already, mass protests against the move to sack the teachers and recruit 25,000 new ones led by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) on 8th November 2017 led to vandalization of the Lugard Hall, premises of the Kaduna State House of Assembly and an attack on some legislators. Similarly, the forced closure of some public primary schools in Kaduna metropolis has caused a massive disruption of the already fragile system and endangerment of innocent and vulnerable pupils.
“As an indication that the worst is yet to come, the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) has issued a warning to embark on an indefinite strike action beginning on November 23, 2017 and has also reportedly mobilized pupils and secondary school students to block some major highways. There are also reports of plans to use hoodlums to burn down public primary schools across the 23 local government area councils in Kaduna State.
“There is no doubt that the educational system nationwide is on the verge of failing completely. The poor performance of candidates at the WAEC/NECO examinations in recent years is the clearest indicator that all is far from well. Higher up, the abysmal quality of recent university graduates speaks volumes on the rot in the education sector at all levels. Assessment tests recently carried out by several state governments notably Kano, Kaduna and Sokoto undoubtedly showed that teacher quality in public schools is at its lowest.”
The statement explained that the teachers have rights as citizens of Kaduna State and bonafide employees of the state government were duly employed under terms and conditions of service none of which were adhered to in coming to the decision to unceremoniously relieve them of their appointments.
“Whereas, Kano and Sokoto state governments have fashioned remedial programmes to train and re-train under-qualified teachers, governor Nasir el-Rufai has chosen the most draconian and ultimately destructive solution,” the committee lamented.
The committee called on the governor to tow the path of sanity, sobriety and pragmatism as his colleagues in other states have done, stressing, “Teachers purported to have failed the examinations and slated for termination should be given a grace period of between six to 12 months to go back to relevant institutions and update their knowledge and skills. Those who do not make the requisite qualifications may then be dismissed but they must be paid all entitlements specified in their terms of service.
“The effort to make public schools better must not stop there. We know that till date, pupils in 50% of public schools in the state sit on the floor due to absence of furniture. Most of the 4,250 public primary schools have no doors, roofs, and windows.
“There are also no water and toilet facilities. Some of the schools are heavily over-populated with more than the required number of students.. All these are fundamental problems that militate against good education for the teeming masses. They need to be tackled urgently if the government is really serious about reforming the system.”