More teachers reject ceding control of primary schools to councils

Members of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) protesting against planned inclusion of primary schools under council autonomy in Abuja…yesterday.PHOTO: LUCY LADIDI ELUKPO

The Edo State Chapter of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) yesterday said they would not support the handover of management and funding of primary education to local councils.
They said that doing that would mean killing the foundation of education in Nigeria.

The teachers said local council administrators from past experiences could not be trusted with running of primary schools in the country.The National President of the NUT, Michael Olukoya, represented by the National Publicity of the union, Amos Izebhihie, said the idea of ceding the payment of teachers salaries, allowances and retirement benefits to the local councils was one that would endanger the welfare of teachers, as had been experienced in the past.
Olukoya said that the awful experience of teachers between 1990 and 1994 when primary education was left in the hands of the councils would continue to haunt the education industry in a long time. 

The ‎state Chairman of the NUT, Loggle Iyalomhe, said that while the union was not primarily concerned with the issue of local council autonomy, it believed that the provisions of the 1999 Constitution, which vested the duty of funding and management of primary education on states while the local councils participated, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, should be upheld to save the sub-sector from imminent collapse.
“In view of the above, we wish to propose that allocation from the Federation Account be reviewed upwards in favour of states to enable them discharge this constitutional responsibility effectively,” he said.

In the same vein, Akwa Ibom State wing of the NUT has called on the National Assembly not to hand over the management of primary schools to the third tier of government in the planned autonomy at the level of governance.

This position was taken by the leadership of the union after a peaceful protest to Government House led by the Chairman, Mr. Etim Ukpong, stressing that handing over the management of primary schools to local councils would risk the future of children in the country.

According to him, the union was not against the granting of autonomy to local councils, but that leaving the funding of this sensitive level of education to the third tier of government would cripple primary education in the country.

The Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Etekamba Umoren, who received the teachers on behalf of the governor, Udom Emmanuel, promised to take their grievances to the appropriate quarters for attention.

Also, members of the Abia State Chapter of the teachers’ union have joined their counterparts in other states rejecting the proposal to give local councils responsibility of paying teachers’ salaries and allowances.

They opined that a different body like the National Primary Education Commission (NPEC) should be given the responsibility of paying teachers’ salaries, adding that the second option would be for the Federal Government to treat the primary school teachers’ salaries as first line charge such that all their emoluments should be deducted from the Federation Account and given to a neutral body for payment.

The fourth National Vice President of the union, Ikechukwu Ngeya, who addressed the teachers on behalf of the national president, Olukoya, said that the main reason for the peaceful rally “is to sensitise all the relevant stakeholders in education and the general public on the danger inherent in the ongoing agitation for local council autonomy as it affects the funding and management of primary education.”

In this article:
Michael OlukoyaNUT
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