Akwa Ibom State chapter of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) has appealed to Governor Udom Emmanuel to ensure improved quality of public schools through regular payment of subventions as promised. Chairman of NUT in the state, Etim Ukpong, stated this while speaking with newsmen at his office in Uyo yesterday.
Ukpong, who is the immediate past Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in the state, said school heads have been striving hard to run schools without charging fees from parents and with irregular subventions from the government. He said irregular subvention has rendered the state’s free and compulsory education policy, ineffective, noting that the grants were to ensure that critical requirements for day-to-day running of schools were provided.
Ukpong, however, said the state was enjoying a tuition-free education, which could not guarantee qualitative education and urged that government to allow schools to chronicle their needs into Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) levies to enable them handle minor needs often neglected by government.
“Teachers face a lot of challenges. Since the free education commenced, all persons who did not have any hope of going to school have started attending school.“Most of them do not have direct sponsors in terms of who buys school uniforms for them, who buys pen and exercise books, not to talk of mathematical set, which they may never have.
“Government does not provide these things, but teachers need these things to teach the students. So, have you seen the contradiction?
“When you blame teachers for doing this and that, you have also forgot that you have refused to address these areas,’’ he said.He decried government’s inability to provide basic teaching and learning aids to public schools such that a reasonable number of pupils and students sit on the floor due to lack of tables and chairs.He appealed to the state government to set timelines for the refund of the 7.5 per cent contributory pension monies owed primary and secondary school teachers.
“We also hope that the government would set timelines to pay leave grants of 2013, 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019 to primary school teachers, as well as promotion arrears from 2011 till date.“Others are five terms arrears of subventions to school heads, refund of money for five years online registration of WAEC candidates and five years science practical allowances to principals.
“Government should also endeavour to pay gratuity to retired teachers and next-of-kin of teachers, who died in service to ensure industrial harmony in the education sector,’’ he added.Ukpong also noted that there was shortage of teachers in the state’s public schools, adding that the teacher-student ratio was one teacher to 100 students, which is a far cry from UNESCO’s standard. He, however, commended the state government for regular and prompt payment of salaries.