THE shameful state of education in our country has manifested again in the crisis rocking Kaduna State where over 22,000 teachers are on the firing line due to alleged lack of requisite qualification to teach.
After Governor Nasir el-Rufai discovered that the poor performance of pupils from the state in external tests (including students on scholarships abroad) owed largely to the poor quality of teachers, a general aptitude test based on Primary Four exam papers was conducted in Mathematics, the English Language, Social Studies, Science, Current Affairs and others.
Following the mass failures recorded, Governor el-Rufai vowed to disengage the unqualified teachers. The Kaduna State chapter of the Nigerian Union of Teachers, NUT and the organised Labour mobilised for a strike and violent protests that led to the destruction of public property at the State House of Assembly.
The government intends to press criminal charges against those behind the violent reactions to measures meant to clean up the educational sector in the state. It has also decided to replace the unqualified teachers with 25,000 qualified ones for which over 19,000 applications have been received.
It is unfortunate that, rather than show remorse over the crimes against the children and pupils whose future they have endangered by gaining entry into the state’s teaching service through dubious means, the affected “teachers,” supported by the Labour unions, went on rampage instead. This impunity and recalcitrance should not be allowed.
The teachers’ crisis in Kaduna State is a social disaster that arose from the morass of corruption and moral turpitude which have for long, enveloped all facets of our national life. Twenty-two thousand unqualified teachers on the payroll of a single state is an emergency situation that requires clear heads on all sides to solve.
We are bluntly opposed to any arrangement that will lead to the continuation of these “teachers” under any guise. No parent would want any of them to teach their children. We fully support the recruitment of qualified persons who should then be systematically trained as teaching professionals. Kaduna simply has to start on a clean slate.
Rather than a mass sack of the fraudulently-hired unqualified teachers, the social challenges that could arise can be remedied by retiring the older ones among them while giving the younger ones a chance to find their usefulness in other areas such as farming and its value chains as well as private sector occupations.
We call on all stakeholders to put aside their political differences and join hands to restore the dignity of education in Kaduna State.
Kaduna is not alone in the crisis of poor quality teachers. It is a nationwide disease that requires a collective approach for its resolution.