The decision of the Kaduna State government to lay off as many as 21,780 school teachers, has not quite gone down well with everyone.
When public primary schools teachers in Kaduna State were told to get set and vacate their jobs, it didn’t sound real to them.
Not long after the announcement, 33,000 primary schools teachers in Kaduna went through real shake-up that has resulted in 21,780 failing the quality test to enable them remain at work.
The reality now is that they face sack any time soon.
Interestingly, the state government is not kidding about this change at the primary school tutorial work force.
Governor Nasir El-Rufai had said and vowed at several fora that unqualified teachers must give way to qualified ones if the education system at that foundation level must work and stand the test of time.
The sack notice began when the state government set examination for the teachers, and 21,780 of them failed even primary four examinations.
“We tested our 33,000 primary school teachers, we gave them primary four examination and required they must score at least 75 per cent but I am sad to announce that 66 per cent of them failed to get the requirements,” El-Rufai had disclosed.
To this end, Governor El-Rufai said the state would shop for 25,000 new teachers as part of the plans to restore dignity and quality to education in the state.
Many stakeholders noted that the initiative to test these teachers was commendable because the quality of the teachers and teachings in public primary schools has gone from bad to worse.
“Because pupils have no quality basic education at the primary school level, they find it very difficult to cope at the secondary and tertiary levels. A house built on faulty foundation cannot stand,” a stakeholder said.
Expectedly, the social media has been abuzz with posts and comments regarding this issue.
Also, many have made uncomplimentary and unpleasant remarks against the affected teachers and called for their immediate sack in line with the position taken by the government.
A stakeholder and Kaduna based lawyer, James Kanyip saw the looming sack of the teachers from different point of view, saying that teachers are not the problem, but the system.
He said if the system is good, you get good teachers, and if it is bad, you get bad teachers as well.
According to Kanyip, “I want to see this issue from a different viewpoint. “Before we crucify those teachers, let us appraise our education standard and system at all levels. We all know that for many years, the standard of education in Nigeria has drastically dropped at all levels.
“Before, when we had the Teachers Colleges, the minimum qualification for teaching in primary schools was the Teachers Grade II Certificate. With the scrapping, we now have the National Certificate of Education (NCE) from Colleges of Education as the upgraded minimum qualification.
“Even with this upgrade, the quality of education has not been salvaged. Instead, it has continued to dwindle and nosedive for the worse. A lot of systemic factors are responsible for this.
“Even those that have managed to make good grades, legitimately or illegitimately, from the poor standard would rather go for other jobs, but not teaching. Therefore, teaching jobs are left for the below-average performing graduates to do.
“The problem is not with those teachers but the system. There is a systemic collapse in the education industry. Therefore, given the same circumstances, the quality of teachers and teachings will not improve to an appreciable level.
“I say this because if the state government subjects those 25,000 new teachers to be recruited to the same examinations that those teachers were subjected to, I bet you the outcome may not be any different.
“This is because those 25,000 passed through the same education system with those teachers that failed the exams.
“The computer experts will say it’s: “garbage in; garbage out.” And the farmer will say: “You reap what you sow.” We cannot expect super graduates or high flyers from a sub-standard education system managed by low quality teachers. We cannot do the same thing and expect the same results. Let us not deceive ourselves about this.
“Substituting those teachers with the 25,000 others may not bring the desired result at last. Teaching needs some special trainings, skills and arts. Are the 25,000 professionally or vocationally trained and equipped as teachers? Apart from paper certificate, do they have the competence, experience and wherewithal to take up this job and make the desired difference?
“So far, the state government has only discovered the problem affecting the Primary Schools only. What about the secondary schools? Bigger and worse problems may lie there too.
“Although the purge of the incompetent teachers is commendable as I said earlier, I think proper reform in the education industry should start from the system and not necessarily the replacement of teachers.
“A good system will produce good teachers; a bad system will produce bad teachers.
And for those mocking and making sarcastic comments against those teachers, I will advise them to go and write the same examination and let us see whether they will perform any better.”
The state Commissioner for Education, Prof. Andrew Nok restated that government would sack the primary school teachers who failed the proficiency and competency test.
“The test is for effective and quality service delivery which is at stake.” Nok said.
Responding to allegation by the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) and the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) that the exercise was a deliberate ploy to lay off teachers, Nok said,
“The exercise was not designed to witch-hunt anyone. Those that do not fit in the profession will be transferred to areas they could make impact and those that are beyond redemption, I am sorry, they will have to go.
“You will be surprised to know that someone teaching science, for example, could not define science. Such a person has no business teaching in our schools. We want to know who is teaching what in our schools and whether the person is competent enough to teach.”
To make the government rescind its decision to sack the teachers, the state chairman, Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Audu Amba called on influential people to help talk to the state government to drop the plan.
For this reason, Amba recently visited the State Head of Service, (HOS), Mrs. Bariatu Mohammed to help in pushing for the retaining of the embattled teachers.
The HOS was said to have promised to mediate.
Also, Nigerian Labour Congress, (NLC) Kaduna State branch has lamented the condition of service of civil servants, particularly teachers in the state.
The state chairman, Adamu Ango said that apart from the sack threat issued the teachers, a good number of them have not been paid salary for months as at September.
The labour leader said: “There are over 9,000 teachers that have not been paid since June 2016 and they are still in the classroom teaching even before any sack.
“Another 3,380 teachers have not received their leave grant since 2015 when this government came to power.
“There is no doubt that Kaduna civil servants are under siege, we have been so terrified that each day we go to work we are scared of receiving one circular or the other.
“What we face now is a circular that has directed that anybody who has one or two years to go as a civil servant should put in his paper for retirement.
“Then, we asked the state government if they are prepared to pay workers their entitlement, once they agree to settle us, we are ready to leave so he can employ those he wants.
“It is unfortunate that we have a government that has decided to kill the labour in the state, a government that does not care about its workers, a government that will say one thing but mean something different.