As the Edo State Government plans to hold the competency test for teachers in the state on March 22, secondary school teachers yesterday dragged the state government to the National Industrial Court.
The teachers are claiming that the state government does not have the competence to conduct the test for them.
According to the teachers, it is only the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria that can determine the standard of knowledge and skill to be attained by teachers in the country. Plaintiffs in the suit now before the Akure Division of the court. are Messrs Okoekpen Emmanuel, Ebare Sunday, Bola Sunday and Osayande Samuel for themselves and on behalf of all secondary school teachers in the state.
Apart from the state government, other defendants in the suit are the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria, Prof. Dennis Agbonlahor (Head of Committee set by state government to conduct assessment test), Mrs. Yemi Keri (Head of Information Technology Agency), Head of Service, Edo State, Ministry of Basic Education and Ministry of Higher Education.
In the suit filed by their counsel, Olayiwola Afolabi, the secondary school teachers are praying the court for an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the defendants excluding the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria whether by themselves, their agents or privy from conducting the purported competency test or any test in anydisguise for them pending the determination of the substantive suit.
They are also praying the court for an order restraining the defendants from taking any step or doing any thing inconsistent with their employment by withholding their salaries or any of their entitlements, terminating their appointments as a result of the said competency test pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.
The plaintiffs want the court to declare that by virtue of the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria Act Cap T3, it is only the body that can determine the standard of knowledge and skill to be attained by teachers in the country including the state.
They are asking the court for, "A further declaration that the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria is the only statutory body empowered by law to conduct any test for teachers, which is the 3rd defendant, and determine who are qualified to be in teaching profession in Nigeria including Edo State.
Meanwhile, a statement by the Agbonlahor-led Assessment Committee said: "Pursuant to the desire by government and people of the state to urgently halt the unacceptable state of decay in its education sector, the seven-man committee has commenced its assignment by adopting a special approach that would be beneficial to all concerned.
According to him, "the committee started by holding interactive sessions with all relevant government stakeholders, Chief Inspectors of Education (CIE) Education Secretaries, Principals and heads of randomly selected secondary and primary schools and paying on the spot assessment visits to schools in order to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the education system.
"In line with international best practices which support the need for continuous professional development and continuous assessment for performance evaluation, the committee will ensure a total systematic assessment by observing the teacher in their classrooms and interacting with the teachers on the subject they teach."
The statement concluded that the theoretical interactive session would terminate the holistic assessment exercise teacher's subject areas that would hold simultaneously across the three senatorial districts on March 22.