By Wole Mosadomi, Minna
Four principals of secondary schools in Niger state are to face demotion over their alleged connivance with some students to perpetrate examination malpractice during the last May/June Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE) conducted by the West African Examination Council (WAEC).
Consequently, members of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) have intervened, pleading with the Niger state government to tamper justice with mercy by pardoning the four of the principals who are their members from being downgraded over alleged connivance with some students to perpetrate the examination fraud.
The state government’s punitive action is coming on the heels of the mass failure recorded in the last WAEC and NECO examinations despite the free education introduced by the present administration to guarantee quality and affordable basic education for all Nigerlites.
The principals, according to findings customarily declared their schools as miracle centres for students who wished to write the examinations and pass at a prescribed fee payable to the school authorities.
Shortly after the examination paper is distributed, the principals were said to haveÂ stand-by, someone who could solve questions in each of the subjects which the students fill into their answer sheets.
In some of the schools, the and some teachers principals, under special arrangement were said to have out rightly filled the answers to the examination papers in each of the subjects as a guarantee for the number of students that paid the extra fee to pass.
Assistant Secretary of the NUT in Niger state, Alhaji Labaran Garba confirmed this in an interview shortly after the inauguration of the NUTâ€™s ICT resource center in Minna, said the plea for leniency by the union for the principals was influenced by the fact that the principals were first offenders.
None of the affected principals had such bad records in the past, Labaran pointed out as he expressed the belief that, if given another chance the principals would not be tempted to involve themselves in similar offence in future.
Though the offence committed by the principals was very grievous contrary to what is expected of them as people who are held in public trust, Labaran is appealing to the state government to consider the period they had served the state diligently with clean records.
He argued that it would be a great disservice for the affected principals after years of meritorious service to Niger state to have all that they have worked for lost in a twinkle of an eye as a punitive measure over the offence they have committed.
Labaran however advised the state government on the need to develop a new approach towards revamping the education in the state. â€œThe implementation of the education sector needed more sincerity in arresting the current academic driftâ€.
â€œWe must separate politics from education if not the problem we are facing will continue unabatedâ€.
Though government was paying the WAEC and NECO fees for all students, Labaran argued that, the available structures are not in good condition and as such, more classrooms are to be constructed and there is also the need for more teachers to be recruited to reduce congestions in the schools which will also guarantee better learning environment.
Meanwhile, the state NUT Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Tanko had in an address during the inauguration of the teachersâ€™ ICT resource center said the social security scheme inaugurated by the union now had a capital base of N391,197 795 with landed property worth over N104 million
Alhaji Tanko said that the scheme would soon set up a micro finance bank with a capital base of N100 million and as well, construct a shopping plaza in one of the choice areas in Minna, the state capital.
Niger state Commissioner for Basic Education, Hajia Asmau Usman who was represented by the Executive Secretary Science and Technical Schools Board Alhaji Yussuf Gunu assured teachers in the state that government would continue to pursue policies that would improve the lot of teachers in the state.