As the indefinite strike action embarked upon by the Kaduna State chapter of the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) enters its second day, public schools in the state remained shut.
This was even as the state government said it has opened an attendance register to be signed by teachers present in schools in line with the Civil Service Rules.
The State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) also called on parents to send their wards to schools. But our correspondent who went round some of the schools reports that at the LEA primary school, Kakuri, Kaduna South, neither the teachers nor pupils were on ground as the school was deserted.
It was the same situation in Aliyu Makama Road Model Primary School, where only the security man was on duty. The security guard told our correspondent that the teachers came briefly and left afterwards. The situation was not very different at the nearby Ungwan Maichibi Primary School, along Sabo road.
At about 9a.m. when our correspondent visited, few of the teachers sighted were already on their way home. However, children from the neighbourhood were using the school premises to play football. Asked why they were not in school, some of them told our correspondent that they were told by their teachers on Monday not to come to school as they are on strike till further notice. A teacher at JSS Television village where the principal’s office was locked with two keys, one for the school and another for the NUT, said they are in support of the strike.
He said: “Three people that I know very well have died, but their names came out as people that passed the competency test. What is paining me is that one of them that I know very well was buried the day I got married. Yet her name came out that she sat for the test and passed. “She died in 2014.
How is that possible? Is it her ghost that sat for the exams? That is why I’m in support of the strike. My position is that government should cancel the exams and conduct a genuine one if actually they are interested in finding out teachers that are not qualified.”
On the threat to sack the teachers for absenteeism, he said: “It is expected; I have not seen any government that had been in support of any strike before. So the threat is not new to me.”
Some of the teachers in the school were seen loitering around. One of the teachers said the NUT officials came to lock the principal’s office, staff room and the main gate of the school. She said they would soon be on their way home as even the students were nowhere to be found.
At Government Secondary School, Barnawa our correspondent met many of the teachers outside the school premises with the main gate of the school under lock and key. One of the teachers told our correspondent that the NUT came to pursue them out of the school premises and locked the gate.
He said even though the civil service rules say staff on grade level 12 and above should not join any strike, the NUT officials insisted that they should go out and go home. The NUT taskforce was also seen at the Government Secondary School, Kakuri, close to Saint Gerald Catholic Hospital along Kachia Road where they told the teachers gathered under the mango tree discussing to immediately leave for their homes.
This was as our correspondent gathered that the teachers had already told the few students that came to school to go home that they were on strike. But addressing a press conference, Alhaji Shehu Othman, Permanent Member II in the state’s SUBEB, warned against politicising the educational reforms embarked upon by the state government.
Othman explained that the state government, having declared the strike action embarked upon by NUT as illegal, directed education secretaries and school administrators to take count of teachers who resumed and those who did not, for necessary actions. He said that teachers who complied with government’s directive in some schools across the state were chased out by NUT officials and sent pupils home, thereby, disrupting teaching and learning.
Othman, however, called on teachers in the state in their own interest, to return to work. He disclosed that NUT officials had gone as far as closing down Local Government Education Authority offices in some local government areas. He said: “The state government will not accept NUT’s use of force to drive away teachers in their lawful duty post.
“This is very disturbing because it is against Civil Service Rules to stop government officials from discharging their official duty.
“We are, therefore, informing union leaders and erring teachers that government will take appropriate action in accordance with the provision of the Civil Service Rules,” Othman said.
Meanwhile, statement issued by the Executive Chairman, Kaduna SUBEB, Malam Nasiru Umar, called on parents and guardians to send their children to school. Umar added that the list of successful candidates who sat for the aptitude test for the recruitment of 25,000 primary school teachers would soon be released.