Daily Trust (Abuja)

Nigeria: Pupils Idle Away in Plateau As Teachers' Strike Enters Seven Month

Pupils in public schools in Plateau are still idling away at home as the strike embarked upon by teachers in the state enters its seventh month.

A correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) who visited some of the schools, reports that the gates of many of the schools were locked and that only security men were seen around the vicinities of the schools.

NAN also observed that some of the schools had been taken over by weeds while some classes had become shades and resting places for goats, dogs and fowls.

A security man in one of the schools in Hwolshe, near the Plateau State Polytechnic, Jos, told NAN that reptiles and lizards had become common sights in the school compound.

Some parents, who spoke to NAN correspondent in Jos on Wednesday, expressed disgust that the strike had persisted for so long.

"Our children have been at home for the past seven months, this is disgusting," Mrs Hanatu Joseph, told NAN in Bukuru.

She expressed regrets that the children had continued to suffer the consequences of "some ego trip" between the government and teachers, calling for a truce as soon as possible.

"The situation is dangerous and the future of our children is bleak," she lamented.

Another parent, Ajim Peters, told NAN that he had lost patience with the system and had enrolled his child into a private school.

"At a point, I discovered that my child was becoming more and more uninterested in education as as result of the lull and had to hurriedly take him somewhere before it is too late," he said..

Speaking on the strike, Mr Sylvester Yakubu, Chairman, Plateau State Chapter of the Parent Teachers' Association, said that many parents had been forced to enrol their children into private schools.

Yakubu said that parents would soon take to the streets to force government to take steps to end the strike.

The PTA chairman pointed out that the future of the children was "on the brink of collapse',' particularly those in the last years of primary school and those seeking to enrol in public schools.

"Schools have resumed but nobody knows the fate of those in primary six since they did not write the common entrance examinations because of the strike.

"As parents, we will not fold our hands and continue to wait until the two warring parties decide to call a truce while the future of our children is in jeopardy," he said.

She rejected suggestions that there was no need for primary six pupils to worry over admission to JSS 1 as there were plans to give them automatic admission.

"If not for the decay in our educational system, someone, who did not sit for any promotion examination and have been at home for seven months, how can such person perform effectively if placed him into JSS 1?," he asked.

The Plateau State Commissioner for Education, Mr Nanle Dashen, told NAN that primary six pupils were already being admitted into JSS 1.

Dashen explained that with the current nine year basic education system, primary six pupils did not need to write common entrance examination before they could be admitted into JSS 1.

He added that the transition from primary six to JSS1 was automatic as it was a continuation of the 9-year basic education system being handled by the Universal Basic Education Board.

"With the present system, it is compulsory for the child to transits up to JSS 3.

"As he transits, all his short falls are noted by the teacher who will remedy them by way of curricular adjustment," he said.

The commissioner, however, expressed optimism that the issues would be resolved soon.

"The State Government has already set up an 11-man elders' committee to resolve the issues. The committee is already discussing with all stakeholders and we shall agree on the grey areas," he said.

Mr Gunshin Yarlings, Chairman, Plateau State Chapter of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, vowed that primary school pupils would remain at home until teachers' grievances were addressed.

"We are not asking for anything new; we only want to be paid the N18,000 minimum wage like any other worker in Nigeria. That is not too much to ask for," he said.

NAN

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