Teachers in public secondary and primary schools in Kaduna State on Monday began an indefinite strike action over job security and welfare issues.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the strike was called by the state chapter of the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT).
The government on Sunday threatened to sack any teacher that joined the strike.
In some of the schools in Kaduna metropolis only security guards were noticed in the premises as students and teachers remain at home.
At LGEA Primary School Mahuta and Unguwan Boro only security guards were at the premises while the classrooms were under lock and key.
One of the security guards told NAN that no teacher had resumed, adding that some of the pupils went home after hanging around with no teacher to attend to them.
At LGEA Primary School Unguwan Mu’azu some of the teachers were at the school premises but with no student on sight.
One of the teachers who preferred anonymity told NAN that they directed the pupils to return home because of the strike, adding that the teachers were hanging around in case there might be new directive from the NUT.
At Rimi College in Unguwan Rimi only the management staffs were at their duty posts, as teachers who resumed work and were briefed by NUT official on the strike pledged compliance.
However, at Government Girls Secondary School Unguwan Mu’azu and Government Girls Secondary School Independence Way, Kaduna, teachers and management staff that resumed for work said they had not seen the NUT circular on the strike.
Other schools visited were Government Secondary School Kargi Road, Tudun Wada, LEA Primary School Faki Road, Tudun Wada, both with no sign of activity.
Reports from Zaria, Sabongari, Makarfi, Soba, Giwa and Ikara Local Government Areas indicate total compliance to the strike as teachers and students remained at home.
The NUT Chairman, Zaria Local Government, Malam Yahaya Abbas said the strike was inevitable as the state government had ignored all efforts to meet the teachers ‘demands.
He contended that the sack of about 22, 000 teachers, one of the reasons for the strike, was carried out in total disregard to civil service rules and regulations.
“The sack was not done in accordance with civil service rules and majority of the teachers passed the so called examination with more than 60 per cent.
“There is no justification for the governor to fix 75 per cent as pass mark, it has never been done anywhere in the world.
“Even in Oxford, Cambridge or Harvard universities, if you get 70 marks, you are an `A’ grade student.”
Usman Rabi’u, NUT Chairman, Sabongari Local Government appreciated teachers in the area for complying with the strike order by the NUT and urged them not to waiver “until justice is done.”
He, however, urged the state government to meet the demands of the union so as not to prolong the strike.
A cross section of teachers said on condition of anonymity, that they were dismayed by the lukewarm attitude of the state government towards addressing issues that led to the strike.
NAN reports that the NUT had on Nov. 6, 2017 gave the state government a two weeks ultimatum to reverse its decision to sack about 22, 000 teachers.
The union had obtained an injunction from the National Industrial Court, Kaduna, restraining the state government from disengaging any teacher until the determination of the substantive suit on the matter.
NUT explained it proceeded on strike after the state government began issuing sack letters to the affected teachers after the Christmas and New Year holidays.
The union is also asking the state government to stop the compulsory retirement of secondary school teachers; pay the 2015 leave transport grant of 3,338 primary school teachers, and that of all public school teachers for 2016 and 2017.
Other demands include the payment of salary arrears of more than 15,000 primary school teachers from June 2015 to July 2016, and full payment of salaries of teachers omitted after screening and those being under paid.
The NUT is stressed that the state government has also failed to promote teachers and provide teaching and learning materials to schools among others.
Meanwhile, Governor Nasiru El-Rufai has insisted that any teacher that absents himself from work will be treated with the consequences that pertain to absconding from duty under the Public Service Rules following the planned industrial action today, Monday.
Samuel Aruwan, Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the governor said, “There can be no doubt that Kaduna State Government will take firm and decisive disciplinary action against personnel who absent themselves from duty, including dismissal from service.
“Kaduna State Government recalls that the NUT placed primary school pupils, who are the victims of failing teachers, in danger by pushing them into the streets to demonstrate for the retention of bad teachers.
“That ruse failed. Some union leaders are also likely to be prosecuted for assault, unlawful procession and destruction of public property when they attacked the State House of Assembly.
“The children of the poor are the ones that attend public primary schools. We owe them a decent standard of education, and we shall provide it.
“The Kaduna State Government wishes to inform the public that it has instructed its Education administrators to open registers in all its schools, starting from Monday, 8th January 2018.
“This is an illegal action, and will not achieve its aim of derailing the education reforms being implemented by the government.
“The Kaduna State Government is not available to be blackmailed into knowingly retaining unqualified teachers.”
The statement said, neither would the government mortgage the future of two million primary school pupils because failed teachers are shamelessly mobilizing sentiment.
“At the invitation of the Federal Ministry of Labour, the Kaduna State Government twice met in Abuja with the officials of the NLC and the NUT.
“The Governor Nasir El-Rufai personally led the Kaduna State delegation to the first meeting,” it added.
According to the statement, during these interactions, Kaduna State Government made it clear that as an employer, it has every right to determine who its employees are or can be, and the minimum qualifications they must possess.
Credit: News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).