Education Commissioner parleys primary school teachers in Delta
By Jon Egie
The Commissioner of Basic and Secondary Education, Prof Patrick Muoboghare has commenced a parley tour with teachers of grade levels 13 and 14 in the public primary school system across Delta State.
In the first lap of the tour, the Commissioner visited Ughelli North LGA, Thursday, Jan. 30; to meet all teachers and Head teachers of grade levels 13 and 14 at the AGGS, Hall.
During the parley with the teachers, Prof Muoboghare who led the discourse raised the issue of posting of teachers and noted the resistance of some teachers to such. He urged the teachers to be ready to accept posting to any station (school) within the local government area. He decried the situation of congestion in schools which lead to over population of teachers in some schools at the expense of others. He particularly pointed at Oharisi Model Primary School, Ughelli and others where over four teachers are in a classroom and assured that the staff population of such schools will be trimmed down to provide staff strength for schools in the rural areas.
Raising a second issue, Prof Muoboghare reminded the teachers of the State government’s free education policy and cautioned the teachers against any form of illegal collection of money from the pupils. “You must flee from such” he enjoined.
As implementers of government policies the Education Commissioner charged the teachers to realize that without their effort the objective of government’s policy of free education at the primary level may not be fulfilled because the teacher is the only source of knowledge for the rural child. He said, in contrast, the urban child has advantage of various sources of knowledge like TV, Cyber café and others, but the only way the child in the village can gain knowledge is the teacher and hence it is criminal to deprive the rural child of that only source of knowledge by staying away from school.
Poking at the controversial issue of appointment of a teacher as a Head teacher in the primary school system across the State, the Education Commissioner bluntly declared that appointment of a Head teacher is strictly by seniority.
He explained that the basic entry qualification into the teaching profession in Nigeria is the Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE). He acknowledged the need for a teacher to improve himsel/ herself academically by reading to obtain the first and even higher degrees. But he informed that a graduate teacher of level 13 is not senior to an NCE teacher of level 14.
He derecognized degrees that have no relation with Education warning that his office has begun the process of verifying the claims of degrees obtained by some teachers. He was vexed by the noise and arrogant behaviour displayed by some teachers in an attempt to show that they are graduate teachers in paradox to what is expected of a university graduate-knowledge and good character, and hence called on the teachers to behave like university materials.
“Believing that obtaining additional certificate is good, Prof Muoboghare who taught most of the teachers in the Delta State University, Abraka preferred in- service training of teachers and thus said “ we will continue to recruit NCE teachers in our primary schools “ adding that the training organized by SUBEB “is more relevant to me than any other”. He marked a degree in Nursery and Primary Education as a choice that is relevant to the system, if he has his way. He informed that Engineers and other professionals who found their ways into the teaching profession are being weeded out gradually.
Prof Muoboghere who is a member of the Teachers’ Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) said that any teacher who is not registered is a quack and advised registered teachers to renew their certificates yearly. He encouraged the teachers to try to raise their self-esteem before members of the public and stop self-subjugation before others.
Responding on behalf of the teachers, the NUT Chairman of the LGA, Comrade David Owhokevwo asked the Commissioner to define what he meant by illegal collection which teachers must flee from and also requested the Hon Commissioner to use his good offices to prevail on the Governor to pay the Harmonization of salary arrears due to primary school teachers across the State.
For an answer, Prof Patrick Muoboghare defined illegal collection as ” collection money not authorized by the Commissioner of Basic and Secondary Education as education is absolutely free in Delta State”.
On the plea by the NUT Chairman, the Commissioner said the financial implication of the Harmonization arrears was N5.5 billion and that the DTSG does not have that sum of money in its coffer.
He reminded the teachers that the State government is not obliged to the payment of salaries of primary school teachers, which responsibility lies on the LGCs. But to facilitate the payment, the State government has been deducting the money at source from the LGCs and commits the sum of N600 million monthly to augment the payment of teachers’ salary.
He however, assured that the Harmonization arrears will be paid by installments as the State government is raising grants to assist the LGCs pay the arrears which will be spread for some months.