Sometime last month, it was revealed that 22000 teachers in Kaduna were on the brink of losing their jobs after failing a basic competence test. The Kaduna state chapter of the Nigerian Union Teachers threatened industrial action but the state government has refused to back down.
In a live interview with radio stations in Kaduna, governor Nasir El Rufai said the NUT should be embarrassed at the literacy level of teachers in the state. He said: “Everybody knows that we will not be deterred in doing what is right for the future of our children. The NUT thinks this is about politics, making a public show of opposing what they know to be right. Shouldn’t everybody be embarrassed by the test results? Where is the sense of shame? I hear some people say the pass mark for a Primary Four exam should be 60%; the same people say the state government has no right to test the competence of its employees. There is no bigger evidence of the crisis in our society than that a union whose members failed a Primary 4 examination thinks it can create problems over the issue rather than be a part of the solution.
“We are not people that bow to threats. We will respond appropriately. What will be point of that strike? To force us to violate our oath of office and knowingly retain as teachers those that are not qualified? That will not happen.”
The governor said the abysmal performance of teachers in the competence test was due to a politicisation of the recruitment process by politicians and local government chairmen who turned the primary school sector to a “dumping ground for their thugs”.
“Unqualified teachers entered the system because the recruitment of teachers was politicised. The local government council chairmen and other senior politicians and bureaucrats saw teaching as a dumping ground for their thugs, supporters and other unqualified persons.
“Teachers were employed at local government level without adherence to standards. In many instances, no examinations or interviews were conducted to assess the quality of recruits. Political patronage, nepotism and corruption became the yardstick, thus giving unqualified persons a way in. Teaching jobs were given as patronage to those connected to politicians and bureaucrats.”
He disclosed that a process in place to replace those facing the sack with 25000 qualified teachers.
“The Kaduna State Executive Council has approved the recruitment of 25,000 primary school teachers. Recruitment notices have already been advertised by the Kaduna State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB). This time around, there would be standardized tests for the recruits and a further training programme before the new teachers take over the classrooms. No unqualified person will scale through. And we will vet certificates very closely and very often. The future of our children is so important that we will not take chances. We will be vigilant in ensuring that only good people teach in our public schools” he said.