Kaduna — At the 2nd national graduation and award ceremony of the National Teachers' Institute (NTI), Kaduna, Governor Ibrahim Yakowa disclosed that he sacked about 4,000 school teachers in the state. The most affected were primary school teachers, Daily Trust learnt.
A large percentage of the sacked teachers were said to have fallen short of the minimum standard qualification set by the state for teachers, which is the National Certificate of Education (NCE). Then others were said to be working with fake certificates.
Officials were not forthcoming with the actual number of teachers in the state. But how has this massive flush from the school system affected teaching and learning? Are there any plans for replacement, and what are the teachers saying on this development?
A teacher in one of the Local Education Authority primary schools in Kaduna metropolis who did not want her name in print claimed that the fake teachers issue must have been exaggerated.
"All these fake teachers that the government is talking about, I don't believe it because I have never come across them," she said.
According to her, some of the teachers who were fired from the school she works on allegations that they had fake certificates had been reinstated after investigation.
"Some of the teachers that were sacked have been reinstated after they were cleared by the screening committee. But they have not been paid salaries since they resumed work...I think it is a deliberate attempt by the state government to reduce the number of teachers in their employ because they lack the funds to pay them," she said.
"Even some of us not sacked are being owed arrears. In fact, some of us who were promoted between 2006 and 2009 have not had the promotion implemented up to now," she added.
Though she admitted that some teachers have not got the minimum qualification of NCE, she said a good number of them will be completing their NCE programme by the end of the year to meet up with the requirement.
But the state commissioner for education, Usman Mohammed said the directive for teachers to upgrade their qualification or face the sack was handed down since the 1990s, even though there was no machinery in place to immediately implement it.
"When the issue of fake teachers escalated, we put another deadline of five years for them to upgrade, but you will find out that most of them have not gone back to school to school, how then do we help this kind of people," he asked.
According to Governor Yakowa, the state government was on track to enhance the quality of education. He said already, a law on quality control has been enacted in the pursuit of quality teaching that can deliver the required development of children.
But Daily Trust investigation revealed another side of the story of Kaduna teachers. Our reporters who went round schools to ascertain the impact of the loss of 4000 teachers in the system did not hear any complaint about the shortfall. Some teachers themselves admitted, though off the record, that there were probably more teachers than required.
A source in the education ministry who craved anonymity told our reporter that many schools, especially those in Kaduna city, and other urban centres may have more teachers than required in terms of teacher-classroom ratio.
The source said: "Many of the teachers have no required qualification; they were recruited based on the connection they have with the chairmen of their respective Local Government Areas (LGA)."
Our correspondent who went to LGEA Ruma, Makarfi, Romi, Rigachikun, TudunWada and Universal Basic Education (UBE) public school in Ungwan Dada reports that teachers did not complain of workload due to the mass sack.
It was learnt that in some schools, teachers report to work every other day because the teacher-classroom ratio is not good enough for all teachers to report every day. A particular group will handle the few classes in the school for a day, while the other group does so the next day, it was learnt.
Our reporters found that in UBE Ungwan Dada A school had 20 teachers and two classrooms; LGEA Ruma, 23 teachers and six classrooms; LGEA Rigachickun 63 teachers and 30 classrooms; LGEA Romi 27 teachers and seven classrooms and LGEA Mararaban Jos 27 teachers and eight classrooms, respectively.
"What this means is that some teach while some sit at home on some days," a teacher in one of the schools said.
Commissioner for Education, Alhaji Usman Mohammed, said when contacted on phone that the present administration has drawn a roadmap on a reform programme, especially at the primary school level because that is where the problem of political influence and lack of qualification is rampant.
He said: "You can imagine, a primary school in Kaduna state, I will not mention the name, employed 300 teachers, and 50% of them where not qualified.
"We do not have much problem at the secondary school level; that is why we re-organising the primary school level through our reform board which is the Kaduna State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB). We are re-examining the position and all teachers be professional teachers.
"We are also trying to sanitize the position of Education Secretary so that only a person with a degree will occupy that position because the position has been politicized. Where we have a weak Education Secretary, nothing can move forward because of the influence that people might have over him/he.
"We have set committees at the Local government level that will take responsibility of screening teachers and any person to be employed must undergo screening. The committee will submit its findings to the appropriate authority.
The commissioner maintained the state government is taking measures to ensure that any teacher coming into the system is truly qualified.
"It's not enough to have the certificate but it will also be checked to ascertain that it truly is a real certificate. Some of these measures are geared toward checking the recruitment of fake teachers, and for teachers to upgrade their present status. When they do, they have no problem, as they will not be sacked or termed as unqualified," he said.
For now, the education system is under close scrutiny, according government officials, but it is left be seen how the steps will reflect in the products of Kaduna schools.