The Kaduna State Government and the state chapter of the Nigeria Union of Teachers are set for a showdown over the recruitment of 25,000 fresh primary school teachers in the state.
Although the union had initially kicked against the move, the government had gone ahead to announce a vacancy for 25,000 fresh teachers, claiming that those to be replaced had failed a competency test conducted previously.
But a statement issued by the Kaduna State Universal Basic Education Board and signed by its Executive Chairman, Nasiru Umar, said the recruitment was part of the state government’s effort to equip all schools with competent and qualified teachers in an effort to provide quality education and learning to pupils across the state.
The statement noted that the recruitment of new teachers became necessary as a result of the inability of about 22,000 teachers to score 75 percent in the Primary four examination recently conducted by the state government.
Umar said, “We invited interested and qualified candidates to apply for teaching appointments into public primary schools across the state.”
The SUBEB specified the possession of the Nigeria Certificate in Education as the minimum qualification. But the agency encouraged graduates in Education disciplines to apply for the jobs.
According to the notice, applicants were expected to present a certificate from the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria.
However, the state chairman of the NUT, Mr. Audu Amba, said the development would force teachers in primary and secondary schools in the state to down tools.
While addressing a press conference shortly after an emergency meeting of the state executive of the union in the state capital on Thursday, Amba warned that the NUT would embark on strike if the State government carried out its threat to sack “even a single teacher” over the competency test.
He described the test as unprofessional and also pointed out that the only competent body empowered by law to test teachers was the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria.
The NUT boss noted that judging by the latest development, the state government appeared to have resolved to sack teachers. “Government will be setting us back 20 years if 22,000 teachers are relieved of their jobs,” he said.
Arguing that the exercise did not conform with what was required of assessment tests for teachers, he said, “We have resolved that, by this examination that was given to our teachers, if any teacher is relieved of his appointment, the NUT may not guarantee further industrial harmony with the government of Kaduna State.
“It is with pain that we are taking this decision while appreciating the concerns of the state government to uplift the status of teachers.
“We have discussed with the government to let it understand that teaching is not like other professions or industrial machines that you open and close at will.
“It will do us no good if 21, 780 teachers are relieved of their jobs. They were not tested based on professionalism or on what they studied. The proficiency test can only be recognised if it is conducted by TRCN. But the state insisted otherwise. What we are receiving today is not what we agreed with the government.”