By Funmi Komolafe
GOVERNOR Adams Oshiomhole of Edo state, has said his education policy is to ensure a sound education for everybody in the state.
Reacting to accusation by political opponents that he is posting teachers outside their areas of residence but the Governor said his policy isÂ toÂ improve on the quality of education inÂ the rural areas .
Comrade Oshiomhole, a former president of the Nigeria Labour CongressÂ confirmed that teachers had been posted to the rural areas, saying that his administration had employed 1, 150 within its first year in office.
First he disclosed that his administration has employed 1, 150 within its first year in office.
He explained in detail the policy of rural posting for teachers.
â€œ 98 % of the schools in the rural areas donâ€™t have more than two or threeÂ teachers. The result is that in a school with 12 classrooms, you have only two or three teachers. There is no way pupils in such places can acquire quality knowledge in the absence of teachers.
Why is this so?Â Two reasons.Â One we do not have enough teachers in the state but this fact is also compoundedÂ by the fact that those who are well connected, a commissioner forÂ education, you are a Governorâ€™s relation, you are chief of staff, they just ensure that people known to them or from their area, are posted to Benin City or some of the local government headquarters.
So that we got into a situation whereÂ in Oredo for example you have some schools where you have up to six principals and up to 12 vice principalsÂ Â Â and thenÂ of course because you are a principal or vice_principal, you no longer teach or in the case of primary schools, you have six headmasters , eight assistant headmasters and of courseÂ you haveÂ severalÂ other teachers who are locked in there.
We then found that in Oredo Local Government for example, we have an average ratio ofÂ one teacherÂ to 16 pupils yet within Oredo local government outside Benin city we have a situation where you have for a whole school,Â of about 12 classrooms we have only two teachers and I said no, we canâ€™t live with that.
The bulk of Nigerians including those in Edo states,Â most of us will agree that about 75% of our people are in the rural areas. So, if we donâ€™t have teachers there, the state cannot have a future.Â Â So, I said,Â we mustÂ have a policy of one classroom must have a class teacher and one subject in the curriculum must have a teacher. So, I directed the commissioner that she should redistribute the teachers to achieveÂ Â a ratio of 30 pupils to one teacher.
So, every classroom having no more than one teacher and every school not more than one principal and one vice_ principal.Â Where the school is large,Â it should not have more than two vice_ principals but under no circumstance should any one school have more than one principal or have more than two vice-principals.
In the case of primary schools,Â under no circumstance should any school have more than one headmaster and one vice- headmaster who must teach.Â What happens is that when you have six principals, all the six donâ€™t teach.Â That createdÂ a huge over head.
In the case of Oredo, the largest local government in the state, we had a situation in which the entire earnings of the local government was not sufficient to payÂ teachers salary alone because everybody had his wife,Â his cousin, his assistantÂ and those whoÂ donâ€™t have they simply pay some bribeÂ to officials of the state primary education board,Â to have themselves transferred toÂ cities of their choiceâ€.
Our policy of rural posting for teachers
Using himself as an example, he said, â€œ I come from a very poor village and when I was growing up, there was noÂ presence of government in my village except the local government authority.Â We used to call it LGA school. So, I as small as my village was, its much bigger now, yet at that time about 40 years ago, we had all teachers .
So, Nigeria and Edo State cannot make progress…Â and when we talk of godfatherism, it is not only in politics, it has permeated all facets of our life. We say no, we canâ€™t live with that but I appreciate that the man who is used to Benin city will not want to be postedÂ to the village but you and I knowÂ by the International Labour Organisation ( ILO) doctrine in the modern world, jobs may not move to where you are.
Man mustÂ move to where job is that is the whole thing about migrant labour.
As a Governor of this state, this job brought me home.Â Â Initially it separated me from my wifeÂ who used to be an employee of the federal ministry of information.Â So, if the job separated me from my wife and I am not complaining, even if she is complaining,Â we had to relocate to where the Governorship of Edo state is.
If the Governor relocates, who are you to say you cannot relocate? but we recognise that no one will be allowed toÂ Â remain in the rural areas for more than three years. After three years, you will return to the city and the guy who has been in the city will move to the rural areas.
This is the way it used to be in those days. It is just as Nigerian leadership collapsed and corrupt practices took over . The whole question of who youÂ know , godfathers and so on, you can be posted to a school of your choice.
We will reform the policies and governance of the state.Â It is not just about building roadsÂ and that is why we appealed to the teachersÂ and you know that part of the policies of the Teachers Salary Structure ( TSS) is that we are going to give special incentives toÂ teachers who are posted to rural areas and that incentive, I have already approvedâ€™.
Several traditional rulers have complained that they do not have enough teachers in their domain.
On the inconvenience of the posting to the teachers, Gov. Oshiomhole said,Â â€œ Nigeria wonâ€™t workÂ if people just say I know someone so I achieve what I want.Â I appreciate the inconvenience but that is what it should be in any civilised society.
You are posted to an area, go and look for a house in that area,Â move your family there. If because you are going to be there for a limited time,Â you keep your family where they are, and you move there. Nobody is expecting you to be commutingÂ from say Benin to Okada. If you are commuting obviously you are going to be arriving late and if you donâ€™t arrive on time, you canâ€™t preach punctuality to your studentsâ€.