The decision by the Kaduna State Governor to sack 21, 780 incompetent teachers have been receiving the backing of many Nigerians.
Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, is one man who thrives on controversies. Some of his past actions have been criticized as being anti-people with many Nigerians calling for his head.
As Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, he went on a demolition spree when he brought down structures that were built without taking the original plan of the FCT into consideration.
He did not spare even the high and mighty in the exercise. Many called for his head but in the end, he was vindicated and now, Abuja is the better for it.
As Governor, he also took some decisions that made the people to rise against him; his decision to pay compensation to Fulani herdsmen who were killing natives made people think he was actually in support of the killer herdsmen.
He also took another step by banning public preaching and Christians all over the country brayed for his blood, with a particular man of God saying he will not live beyond a certain period.
But with the decision to sack about 21,780 primary school teachers who failed a competency examination meant for Primary four pupils has been commended by many including President Muhammadu Buhari.
This time around, el-Rufai has ticked all the right boxes and a majority of Nigerians have risen in his defense.
For the records, you will recall that that 33,000 teachers were made to undergo the test and the whopping number that failed the simple test was appalling.
And now his declaration that the state is shopping for 25,000 new teachers to replace the incompetent teachers so as to restore dignity and quality to education is something any reasonable person should clap for el-Rufai.
Governor el-Rufai had made the announcement known when he received a World Bank’s delegation in the state.
He had said:
“We tested our 33,000 primary school teachers; we gave them primary four examinations and required they must get at least 75 percent but I am sad to announce that 66 percent of them failed to get the requirements.
The hiring of teachers in the past was politicized and we intend to change that by bringing in young and qualified primary school teachers to restore the dignity of education in the state.
We have a challenge with the teacher-pupil ratio in the urban schools; there is a concentration of teachers that are not needed.”
Even though the Kaduna State chapter of the Nigeria Union of Teachers [NUT] has given the state government a two-week notice to stand down on the planned sack of 21,780 primary school teachers or face an indefinite strike, it is worthy of note that such threats will not see the light of the day.
In a letter written to the governor by the state chairman of the NUT, Audu Amba, the teachers accused the governor of shifting the goal post in the middle of the game in its agreement with the teachers’ umbrella body.
The open letter noted that contrary to the agreement reached between the state government and the NUT, it was initially agreed by all stakeholders in the education sector that the pass mark for the competency test be pegged at 60 percent, while those who are unable to score up to 60 percent be retrained.
Primary education is the bedrock and foundation of a country's educational system and where a teacher who is supposed to impart knowledge in the minds of pupils cannot even live up to expectation, no sane leader will allow such rot to continue unabated.
Many will argue that the teachers were employed by the government in the first place but where competency is thrown out of the window, then we must also take drastic measures to bring sanity into the system.
Other people have also argued that the number that will be thrown into the labour market will further create a burden on the state is unsustainable. Yes, some of them could be retrained but in the interim, qualified teachers should be employed to teach the young minds.
A situation where a teacher saddled with the job of teaching pupils whose mind are blank and take in anything as the gospel truth, it will be very sad to allow these misfits to continue to teach them.
On this not, Nasir el-Rufai gets the votes of every well-meaning Nigerians who are desirous of a quality education system in the country. He has our backing on this one. There should be no going back.