On Thursday, the Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, in Kaduna called off its indefinite strike after 10 days.
“The state wing of the NUT, Kaduna State met today 18th January, 2018 to review the situation in the light of the pronouncement of the Kaduna state government which was broadcast on the state media outfit, the KSMC,” said Audu Amba, the chairman of the NUT.
No matter how much of a spin anyone tries to put on it, it is unacceptable that those employed to educate school children in their formative years were unable to pass a Primary 4 competency test. The test did not even assess the teachers on their methods or ability to communicate – just whether they had the knowledge. And yet over 21,000 teachers in Kaduna failed to score up to 75 per cent.
But it is hard to beat the unions in Nigeria to effect reforms. Kaduna governor Nasir El-rufai sacked the teachers who failed and then refused to back down despite the threats. He must have known how previous governors in other states had attempted to reform the sector and failed. Kayode Fayemi’s attempt in Ekiti arguably contributed to his failure to win reelection (of course it remains to be seen whether El-rufai will get reelected). Former Edo governor, Adams Oshiomhole, had to shelve his reforms half way following serious pushback from the union.
Why it matters:
It seems that for the first time, a governor will successfully pull it off. And it could serve as a template for other reform minded governors in the country.
The union said it was calling off the strike because Governor Nasir El-Rufai had pledged to give the sacked teachers a second chance to apply and get employed. This is a strange argument because at no time did the state government bar the sacked teachers from giving it another shot.
Here is what the NUT chairman, Amba, said:
“The state government after a meeting with the interim chairman and Education Secretaries of the 23 local governments has decided to give the 21,780 teachers who did not pass the recent competency test another opportunity for consideration under the State Universal Education Board (SUBEB) program of continuous recruitment that will give every willing teacher a chance to apply.
“The State Wing Executive Council, SWEC, of NUT Kaduna commends the above decision of the governor and sees in it an opportunity to resolve the impasse between the teachers in Kaduna State and the state government, the end results of which will be an improvement in service delivery in our public schools
“In the light of the above, SWEC unanimously resolved to reciprocate the gesture of the Kaduna State Government by calling off with immediate effect the indefinite strike action embarked upon by teachers in the public schools and secondary schools in Kaduna state.”
Already 43,000 people have sent in applications for the open roles, and the first batch of employed teachers are expected to start work next month.
A big plus for the governor was that most parents sided with the government which explained that its action was to ensure that their kids also get good education just like the kids of the rich.
It is far from over for the governor as it remains to be seen what action the NUT will take when the recruitment process is finally concluded. But for now, he can afford to heave a sigh of relief – the biggest hurdle, it appears, is out of the way.