Joe Effiong, Uyo
The Nigerian Union of Teachers has expressed disappointment at the abysmally low number of teachers in Akwa Akwa Ibom State public schools which has pegged the teacher-pupil ratio at 1:100.
The Akwa Ibom state chairman of NUT, Mr Etim Ukpong, who diclose this while speaking with Daily Sun, said there were only 11, 913 teachers made up of 8,923 females and 2, 2920 males in the 1, 161 public primary schools in the state.
While describing the number of teachers as grossly inadequate, Ukpong said there was an urgent need to employ more teachers since Akwa Ibom State, with a total of 18,790 teachers in public primary and secondary schools, has one of the lowest number of teachers in public schools compared to other state similar number of schools in the country.
He however regretted that teachers recruitment exercise in the state is usually politicised when political office holders would defy the directive of the governor and bring out lists of their cronies to be employed, thus ignoring the input of the union.
On the purported free and compulsory education in the state, the NUT boss said, education in the state was only tuition-free whereas there were more expenses which government does not undertake, thus still leaving the burden on the parents.
He lamented that the state government was owing public schools 5-term subvention which the school heads would have used to run the schools, thereby making the assumed free and compulsory education non qualitative.
Ukpong said that despite owing the subvention, government officials always go out harassing teachers who are running the schools from their pockets and are sometimes forced to make some charges to buy chalk, equip laboratories for examination and even collect NECO fees to register students since government does not pay for NECO for students.
“This kind of interaction is necessary; the union speaks for teachers. We deliberately refused to talk for a while because there were elections and we didn’t want to be accused of trying to tumble the election victory; and there were the courts too. So we wanted them to clear all that so that if we say something, it will not be misinterpreted.
“Government needs to change its tactics towards the workers. You don’t carry big stick chasing at people. That is what is happening today. Agents of government are too arrogant This is what is happening to Akwa Ibom right now.
“Akwa Ibom teachers today face a lot of challenges. One, the free education came in and all persons who did not have the hope of going to schools are now in schools and most of them don’t have direct sponsors, not in terms of school fees anymore. But who buys uniform, as basic as that?
“Who buys the first set of exercise books, who buys pen or pencil, not even talking about the whole math set for that child going to school? And government doesn’t provide these ones. But teachers need these things to teach students.
“So when you go to town blaming teachers for collecting this and that, have you also forgotten that you have not addressed those fundamental areas? That the crux of the matter,” Ukpong said.