The Kaduna State Government has instructed its Education Administrators to open registers in all its schools, starting from tomorrow (Monday) and declare any teacher absent from work as having absconded from duty under the Public Service Rules.
The Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, earlier on Sunday called on all teachers to remain at home until the state government reverses its decision to sack over 21,780 primary school teachers who scored below 75 per cent in a competency test. The NUT said it had given the State Government two weeks’ notice to rescind the decision, which has since lapsed.
According to the Union, the decision has become necessary after the State Government began issuing sack letters to the affected teachers after the Christmas and New Year holidays.
“As a responsible Union, we ventilated our grievances before the National Industrial Court, Kaduna, and the court on Dec. 4, 2017, granted an interlocutory injunction, restraining the State Government from disengaging any teacher pending the determination of the case.
“The court order was served to Gov Nasir el-Rufa’i, but surprisingly, he went on to order the distribution of letters of disengagement to the affected teachers, dated Nov. 3rd, 2017.
“We, therefore, met on January 4th, 2018 and unanimously resolved to embark on indefinite strike action on Monday 8.”
The notice also highlighted other unresolved issues with the State Government, such as compulsory retirement of secondary school teachers before their due date as against the 35 years of service or 60 years of age provided by civil service rules.
Other issues include non payment of 2015 leave transport grant to 3,338 primary school teachers, as well as 2016 and 2017 leave transport grant to all public school teachers despite deductions at source.
The teachers are also asking for payment of salary arrears of more than 15,000 primary school teachers of one to 12 months from June 2015 to July 2016.
The NUT also said the Government has failed pay the salaries to some teachers, while others are under payed.
It stressed that the State Government has also failed to promote teachers and provide teaching and learning materials to schools among others.
However, the State Government in a statement by Samuel Aruwan, Senior Special Assistant to the Kaduna Governor, said it will take firm and decisive disciplinary action including dismissal from service against those that absent themselves from duty.
“It has come to the notice of the Kaduna State Government that the state branch of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) has declared an indefinite strike. This is an illegal action, and will not achieve its aim of derailing the education reforms being implemented by the government.
“The Kaduna State Government is not available to be blackmailed into knowingly retaining unqualified teachers. Neither would it mortgage the future of two million primary school pupils because failed teachers are shamelessly mobilizing sentiment.
“At the invitation of the Federal Ministry of Labour, the Kaduna State Government twice met in Abuja with the officials of the NLC and the NUT. The Governor Nasir el-Rufa’i personally led the Kaduna State delegation to the first meeting. During these interactions, Kaduna State made it clear that as an employer, it has every right to determine who its employees are or can be, and the minimum qualifications they must possess.”
Mr. Aruwan then declared the government’s threat.
“The Kaduna State Government wishes to inform the public that it has instructed its Education administrators to open registers in all its schools, starting from Monday, 8th January 2018.
“Any teacher that is absent from work will be treated with the consequences that pertain to absconding from duty under the Public Service Rules. There can be no doubt that state will take firm and decisive disciplinary action against personnel who absent themselves from duty, including dismissal from service.
“Kaduna State recalls that the NUT placed primary school pupils, who are the victims of failing teachers, in danger by pushing them into the streets to demonstrate for the retention of bad teachers. That ruse failed. Some union leaders are also likely to be prosecuted for assault, unlawful procession and destruction of public property when they attacked the State House of Assembly.
“The children of the poor are the ones that attend public primary schools. We owe them a decent standard of education, and we shall provide it,” the statement read.
Earlier in the new year, the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, had also criticised the Kaduna State Government’s decision to proceed with the sack despite a suit at the National Industrial Court on the matter.