By Ibrahim Solahudeen.
A group, the Kwara Emerging Leaders, has urged the Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq-led administration to reabsorb the sacked 1658 teachers that were already audited and deemed qualified by the government.
In a statement by its Head of Media Relations, Adekunle Oyedepo, the group observed that the sack of the teachers, especially those already adjudged qualified, was nothing but insincerity on the part of the government and obvious lack of empathy.
“We consider the government insincere and dishonest to have gone ahead to order the dismissal of the teachers after it declared 1658 of them as duly employed. Is the government aware of the implication of such mass termination? The present economic situation has been bad enough for several families, particularly the sacked teachers. Did the government even consider that the teachers whose appointments were summarily terminated were a source of financial security for many families and dependents?
“The government disengaged them and ordered for a fresh employment without assuring them of the right of first refusal. Since government is a continuum, we consider such action as a bad politics and unfair victimisation considering that they were all employed under a contractual agreement and are now being targeted for no fault of theirs,” Oyedepo said.
He further noted that “aside the fact that there was no known NEEDS assessment that was conducted to arrive at the planned recruitment of 4701 teachers, it is certain that employing that number at a time government’s revenue has dropped is nothing but posturing and showmanship.
“We recall that in 2008/2009 that the last known state-wide school census and Needs Assessment was conducted, it was estimated that the total number of students in public primary and secondary schools was about 285,000, while teachers at the time were estimated at about 21,000. At the time, Kwara had a student to teacher ratio of about 15 students to 1 teacher which was far within the UNESCO estimate of 40 students to 1 teacher.
“We are all aware that because of the decline in the quality of instruction in government owned schools, enrolment in public primary and secondary schools has dropped, a situation that is nothing but a failure of previous governments in this regard.
“Based on this knowledge, we cannot reconcile how the government came to the conclusion of 4701. Indeed, what is the justification for prioritising the recruitment of more teachers at the expense of a bigger investment in facility upgrade and the retraining of existing teachers. Government’s revenue at all level has dropped, particularly because of the impact of Covid-19. Therefore, for a public service that the government itself agrees is bloated, what is the payment plan for the teachers that will be recruited? Or would they do the work for free?
“If the government insist on carrying on with a plan that is clearly a sham and not well thought out, when did it conduct the said NEEDS Assessment? When did it carry out the student/teacher census? What is the teacher/student ratio in Kwara at the moment?”
“We believe that the issue of education is too fundamental to be politicised or given any coloration that is close to that. We maintain that education is not only about building the outcome of the future from today, but most importantly the foundation of a better, secured and prosperous Kwara”
The group also expressed its worry over the obvious lack of due process in the entire recruitment process, noting that it is the duty of SUBEB in liaison with local government to have initiated a request for the recruitment of teachers at the basic education level, since it is within their purview. The group said it is not aware that this is the situation.