12 October 2017

Nigeria: Aggrieved Teachers Disrupt Academic Activities At Federal Science and Technical College

Academic activities remained on hold for the seventh day on Monday at the Federal Science and Technical College, Orozo, in Abuja as the teachers continued their strike over crumbling facilities and other sundry issues.

The workers, who started their strike Friday last week, staged a protest within the school premises on Wednesday over the refusal of the authorities to address their grievances.

When PREMIUM TIMES visited the school on Thursday, the students were seen playing about in the premises while their teachers gathered under a tree singing solidarity songs.

Theresa Okukwe, a year one student of the school, told PREMIUM TIMES that the students had not been receiving lessons since Monday.

"It is known everywhere that the teachers are on strike, so we've not been doing anything," she said.

Olusegun Ilurunmi, a teacher of the school who is also the chairman of the Orozo unit of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, said the teachers were aggrieved that some teachers were transferred from the school and were not replaced as a result of which some departments do not have teachers while the others were being overworked.

"Thirty-nine teachers and one vice principal were posted out of the school without being replaced and this has really affect some units of the school as they lack teachers," he said.

"Some units only have one teacher and the teacher must take the students from Year One to final year. Most times, the students end up doing practicals without theories for a week.

"Meanwhile, a teacher that transferred out of the school named Felix Ugwu still comes to supervise projects. There is a foul play," he said.

"The department of Brick, block laying and concreting has one teacher for year one, two and three while Introduction to building has no teachers to teach the students. A caterer in the kitchen who is not a teacher was asked to leave the kitchen and start taking the students the subject."

On the physical infrastructure of the school, Mr Ilurunmi said due to lack of a maintenance culture, the buildings had become dilapidated and nothing was being done about them.

"The boys' hostel is in bad shape and some of the classrooms are surrounded by heaps of sand, a refuse dump and mud. Planks are placed on the floor to access some classrooms.

"Chairs were just brought to some classes last week but students in Year Two still stand to receive lessons," he told PREMIUM TIMES.

Memunat Kariola, another teacher of the school who is also an official of the staff association, said the students were being treated poorly, alleging that they have only three fetching points for drinking water.

"About 1,500 of the students drink water in a spirogyra-infested environment. This was brought to the notice of the principal but nothing was done.

"Most of the male students avoid the assembly ground and run into the bush because there is no water for them to bathe at times and for fear of being flogged by teachers for being unkempt."

She said the school's principal, Ihekwaba Obiageli, "just brought engineers today after yesterday's protest to work on the abandoned boreholes."

The immediate past chairman of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, Orozo branch, Olusegun Adebayo, told PREMIUM TIMES that the grievances of the teachers had become unbearable for them, saying it was the reason "why they had to protest."

According to Mr. Adebayo, the teachers only get instructional materials yearly during WAEC and NECO examinations, despite huge sums allegedly provided for the materials.

He said the situation was affecting the final results of the students.

"The whole problem started two years ago when she (Mrs. Ihekwaba) was made the principal.

The teachers alleged that the principal kept back part of a N23 million granted by Africa Development Bank to build the Business Development Centre of the school.

"The funds were not made available to all teachers but to those that are close to her. She prefers to bring in artisans than using the staff of the schools for projects. And now, the canteen and school halls are locked."

When PREMIUM TIMES reporter went to the administration block to speak with the principal, the security officials said she was not around.

The Bursar of the school, Istifanus Mamza, however said the teachers' boycott of work had been reported to the Federal Ministry of Education. He said he could not say more to the media.

"We have been told not to speak to journalists," he said.

According to a member of the staff, the principal, Mrs. Ihekwaba will be retiring on October 18.

The principal did not pick calls to her phone or respond to text messages by the reporter at the time of filing this report.

When contacted, the spokesperson of the federal ministry of education, Chinyere Ihuoma, declined comment saying a new director for basic education who can provide details on the matter will assume office on Monday.

"There is a reshuffling in the ministry and the old director for basic education will not speak on this, but the new director will resume on Monday," she said.

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