By Victor Ahiuma- Young
A few days ago, leaders of the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational andÂ AssociatedÂ Institutions (NASU) in the nationâ€™s schools and colleges met at the Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH), Lagos, to examine the state of education in the country especially in the school and colleges as well as welfare of members. For NASU leaders,Â primary and post primary schools are the most neglected both inÂ infrastructure and welfare of staff.
Addressing members, Lagos state council Chairman of NASU, Comrade SteveÂ Agboga, lamentedÂ theÂ neglect of primary and post primary schools in the country despite its importance to education.
According to him: â€œPrimary and Post Primary schools areÂ a very important sectorÂ to the world. It is the bedrock of formative education, I am yet to see any of our leaders who did not pass through primary or secondary education. The unfortunate thing is that this area is most neglected.
Let me recall the unfulfilled promises of successive governments to approve uniformed conditions of services and enhanced salaries and allowances for workers in primary and post primary schools. Forgetting that these are the workers that are really responsible for the formative stages of education of our children.
I join the union to recognise that non teaching employees in the primary and post primary schools in this country which have immensely been rendering supportive services to the growth and development of education since the time immemorial.
Education at this level is more, fundamental in preparation for the Nationâ€™s man power needs. No primary education, No development. The workforce in this sector needs to be motivated by both federal and state governments. IÂ support the unionâ€™s demand for a separate salary structure and unified conditions of service for non – teaching staff in Primary and Post Primary schools in the country. I will like to also say that education sector of this country is in total shamble.
It is quite appalling that at this time the country is claiming to have a – full flesh graduates at the helm of affairs, the whole sector is now decayed beyond expectation. I will implore all of us to be prepared for the challenges ahead because the wind that is blowing in all the universities in the country may soon blow to other levels.
We can not be silent in our shell and that is why we are slugging it out with the present day government because strikes in our institutions and schools of learning will definitely have multiplying effect (negative) on the future of our children therefore our government needsÂ to yield to our plight.
Plight of schools, colleges workers
Earlier in his welcome address, branch Chairman of NASU, Comrade M Adekoya, decried the problems facing teaching and non-Teaching staff in the nationâ€™s schools and called on government to address the problems urgently in the interest of the nation.
According to him: â€œThese categories of workers mould pupilâ€™s life from infantry to adulthood. We implore state governorsÂ who are yet to implement theÂ payment of 27.5% to do so without further delay including Lagos State Government.
WeÂ also like to remind the Governors including Lagos, to know that Non-Teachers and Teachers contributions in the schools system are complementary and inseparable, therefore, I appeal to our State Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) to extend the percentage increase toÂ Non-Teachers as well, since this will go a long way to cushion membersâ€™ problems.
The issue of furniture grant has been on for months and efforts to get the Government implement it as agreedÂ during the last administration proved abortive. I therefore appeal toÂ the State Government toÂ direct the payment of this furniture grants without further delay to our members.â€
â€œProvision of adequate working tools like rain-boot, raincoat, and torchlight for our member is another issue for the Government to help loo
k into dispassionately to increase productivity. Provision of shelter for members in schoolsÂ to facilitateÂ efficiency on the job is another problem facing our members.
During the raining season; there is no hiding place for members to seek refuge while exposing them to danger on duty. Increase in the allowance paid to non-teaching staff posted into rural and riverrine areas are over due for consideration since many of our members are willing to work anywhere with adequate incentive and security.
While appreciating efforts of Government towards prompt promotion of our members to another grade, weÂ still appeal to the Government to look into our plight on those who added additional qualification to themselves and enumerate them appropriately.â€
Government laments strikes
In her address, State Controller,Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, Lagos state office, Mrs. Nofisat Abiola Arogundape, decried the rate of industrial unrest in the nationâ€™s educational system and called for increased social dialogue to stem the tide.
Represented by the Chief Labour officer in the Ministry, Mrs Mary Fagbamiye, Mrs Arogundade,said: â€œEducation is critical to the development of a country. Advanced countries of the world remain great because of high literacy and technological development in those economies.
IfÂ the situation continues the way it is going now, we will produce future leaders that lack substance and integrity. Granted that your demands are legitimate, but is continued strike action the only way to get the issues resolved? It is our considered opinion that social dialogue is the right answer, and social dialogue can only thrive in a conducive atmosphere.”