BusinessDay

Maltreatment of the newly recruited FG’s unity schools’ teachers

Education scholars in Nigeria and across the world have successfully established a positive correlation between teachers’ remuneration and students’ performance. In Pakistan, a research work published in the International Journal of Science and Research shows that in addition to the teachers’ knowledge and teaching skills, remuneration is another indispensable factor that affects students’ performance. Similar findings were made by researchers who investigated a similar subject matter in Anambra State a few years back. This cannot be controverted because the matter at issue is productivity.

Therefore, Nigerians were greatly disappointed when early this year they got to know about the ignoble status of the newly recruited teachers into the federal government’s unity schools across the country. According to the letter written to President Muhammadu Buhari, the teachers, under the auspices of the Newly Employed Teachers of Unity Colleges, complained they were employed in 2018 and up till the time that they wrote their grievances early this year, none of them had been paid.

As a media outfit that is committed to balancing, it will be appropriate to state the rejoinder of the federal government to the complaints of these teachers. Responding to the issues raised in their letter, the permanent secretary, the Federal Ministry of Education, Sunny Echono, attributed the delay in payment of salaries of these teachers to the migration to the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS). He also admitted some individuals amongst the protesting teachers might not be legitimate employees of the education ministry.

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But when we consider findings by other notable media outfits in Nigeria, we have no option but to accept what the education ministry said with a pinch of salt. That terse response was just a face-saving one. The problem has become a tradition that an average teacher employed by the Government into unity schools across the country has a nasty experience to recount.

An investigation conducted by Daily Trust has established that the excuses put forward by the permanent secretary might not be genuine after all. According to the newspaper whose journalists visited some unity schools, some of the teachers regaled them with similarly sour experiences when they were recruited.

It was revealed that at Federal Government Boys’ College Apo, Abuja, Nigeria’s seat of power, a teacher who was employed in January 2014 got his first salary ten months later. At the Federal Government College Azare, Bauchi State, a teacher who was employed in 2011 but started working in 2012 had to wait for thirteen months before he received his first salary. In the same school, some teachers worked for two years before receiving their first salaries.

It is disheartening that Nigerian officials will treat their fellow Nigerians this harshly. How could citizens of this country, whom the federal government vowed to protect be treated this unjustly? If the migration to IPPIS is not working for some new recruits; are the education ministry officials so insensitive as not to create another albeit interim means to pay their workers such that they will have to wait for at least a year before getting their first payment? To say the least, this maltreatment is uncalled for.

 It is disheartening that Nigerian officials will treat their fellow Nigerians this harshly. How could citizens of this country, whom the federal government vowed to protect be treated this unjustly?

This protracted problem speaks volumes about those in charge of the Nigerian education system. The excuse that the problem was caused by the adoption of IPPIS is untenable because none of the senior education ministry officials will tolerate a similar situation not to be paid for almost two years and yet be expected to be optimally productive. That they condoned this shows they all lack humane touch. It also shows the speed of responsiveness to the challenges in the education sector. Teachers are a major stakeholder in the education system, and thus, it goes without saying that if such an important element could be treated in this manner, other major components such as students, education infrastructures, materials, just to mention are in dire straits.

In a country where the poverty and dependency ratios is very high, the lackadaisical attitude of the education ministry’s officials would have further impoverished many families. This is true because as long as those teachers were in schools executing their side of the contract, and hoping that the Government would fulfill its side of the contractual obligations, there was no way they could pursue an alternative means of livelihood to earn a living. The only means of survival is either divine providence or transitory income. In the light of the foregoing, The Ministry of Education should sit up and be more alive to its responsibilities.

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