By Joseph Erunke
THE Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union, COEASU, has asked Nigerians to hold the Federal Government responsible if it shut down colleges of education across the country.
The union also called on the government to demonstrate genuine concern for teacher-education in the way issues concerning the sub-sector in education, represented by the Colleges of Education, were being handled.”
The union in a statement by its President, Dr. Smart Olugbeko, yesterday, stated: “Government has refused to redeem her recurring promises to release the N15 billion Revitalization Fund it pledged since 2018.
“The implication of the non-release of the fund is the deplorable conditions of the teaching-learning infrastructure that would have been addressed if the fund is released.
“The Presidential Needs Assessment in public Colleges of Education was conducted in 2014 and updated in 2017 with the promise of prompt intervention towards reversing the deplorable decay in infrastructure across the public Colleges of Education in Nigeria.
“Unfortunately, the FG has left the report in the shelves while repeatedly promising to release a paltry N15 billion to revitalise decayed infrastructures that will facilitate effective teaching and learning in the colleges.
“It smacks of serious insensitivity that the FG is still looking for an account from which the palliative already approved should be paid over four years after the approval.
“In addition to the N15billion Revitalisation Fund, the Union had at different levels of engagement with the government presented lingering issues which government must address in the interest of industrial peace.
“Some of these issues are; Renegotiation of 2010 COEASU–FGN Agreement; Non-payment of Minimum Wage Arrears; Non-payment of accrued arrears on CONTISS 15 (Migration) of lower cadres; Non-payment of outstanding Promotion Arrears (2018 till date); Non-release of illegally withheld Union dues on 2012-2016 promotion arrears, Non-funding of Out-sourced Services. Sadly, these issues remain unresolved as FG has paid only mere lip services to them.
‘’COEASU as a union made up of professional teachers, has shown uncommon understanding by exploring all peaceful means to call the attention of government to resolve these issues not because the union lacks the capacity to mobilize for strikes but because we are exceptionally concerned about the plight of our students who are mostly children of the ordinary people and the less privileged masses of this country.
“The FG has failed to reciprocate this patriotic disposition of our Union showing the most embarrassing level of insensitivity and marginalization.
“Serious countries all over the world take the issue of teacher education seriously because it is the fulcrum of their development while Nigeria is still handling teacher-education with levity.
“This clearly explains why our development has been stunted. It is pertinent to remind government that investment in qualitative teacher-education is sine qua non for functional education system, without which the nation cannot achieve meaningful development.
“Students of Colleges of Education are being trained as teachers, the most critical profession holding the key to the value reorientation required to bail our society out of its present existential challenges. Suffices to state that the COE system is the nucleus of this critical service.
“Over one million students in Colleges of Education in Nigeria will soon join their counterparts in the universities at home if government fails to address these issues promptly.
“Our capabilities to endure government’s insensitivity, delay tactics and disrespect have been drawn to the barest limits. We, therefore, use this medium to inform the public to hold government responsible for any industrial crisis that may hit the Colleges of Education soon as the National Executive Council, NEC, of our Union meets at the end of the month of March.
“Indeed, only the fulfilment of the pledges, and actionable resolution of the lingering issues, without further delay on the part of Government, can ensure sustained industrial peace in our colleges of education.’’