Bauchi — One year ago, Bauchi State Universal Basic Education Board set up a committee that conducted a verification exercise of teachers and their certificates with 5,502 out of the 12,864 teachers in the state failing the test. Some possessed fake certificates, others couldn't defend theirs.
The board said it would sponsor the unqualified teachers to school but the state's Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) refused the offer, saying it was a ploy to sack the teachers. The state's House of Assembly intervened in the matter and advised both parties to maintain the status quo pending its investigation into the matter.
But the matter didn't rest for long as the state government directed the Commissioner for Education and the chairman of SUBEB to implement a report on the verification of productive and unproductive workforce in the Local Education Authorities.
The board set up another implementation committee in compliance with the order and intended to carry out a proficiency test for teachers which led to disquiet all over the state.
SUBEB Chairman Alhaji Abdullahi Dabo told Daily Trust that, "the proficiency test intended by the board is in the good interest of the teachers and primary education in the state because out of the 18,000 teachers we have discovered between six to seven thousand teachers are unqualified. We have been directed to fish out the unqualified teachers and send those that require training back to school and redeploy those that cannot teach in order to get fresh qualified teachers to teach in our primary schools."
Dabo said there is no going back on the screening exercise and teachers that refuse to attend the proficiency test will not collect their salaries.
On the other hand, the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) offered two raka'at prayers in various Eid-prayer grounds across the state seeking for God's intervention against the calamities befalling them which they alleged was masterminded by the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB).
When the board, penultimate week, started the screening of teachers, their union kicked against the exercise -they dispersed the teachers at the screening venues.
According to the Bauchi local government chairman of the union, Comrade Suleiman Idris Noma, the unqualified teachers the board is claiming are holders of NCE Distance Learning Studies (DLS) and State Teachers Up-grading programme (STUP), which are duly recognised.
He explained that both programmes are being run by the National Teachers Institute (NTI).
The union chairman alleged that the board has penciled down 10,000 out of the 18,000 school teachers in the state for sack and that already the 10,000 teachers names have been deleted from the salary payment roll.
Noma told newsmen that the two raka'at prayers at the Bauchi central Eid ground were simultaneously offered at all the Eid grounds across the 20 local government areas in the state by teachers whom, he said, are yet to be paid their December 2012 salaries.
Comrade Suleiman Noma said if SUBEB does not retrace its line of action, the union would mobilise its members not to resume for the second term session.
The peaceful demonstration by the teachers in Bauchi local government area also took them to the Emir, Alhaji Rilwanu Suleiman Adamu's palace where he assured them of taking up the matter to the appropriate authorities.
Schools were to resume on Monday 7th January but primary school teachers refused to open the schools on the ground that SUBEB must pay them their December salaries.
If both sides refuse to settle their grievances, the future of primary education in Bauchi state may become bleak.