The PUNCH’s findings in states including Cross River, Ogun, Ondo, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Benue, Osun and Ekiti states showed that public secondary schools lacked adequate subject teachers, particularly in English Language, Physics, History, Economics, Information and Communication Technology, Mathematics, Commerce, Chemistry, Further Mathematics and Biology.
Government officials in the states, who confided in The PUNCH, cited paucity of funds as one of the reasons for the delay in employing teachers.
But the NUT and some principals noted that the non-replacement of retired teachers and failure to recruit new ones could threaten public secondary education in the country.
We can’t advance without science teachers– NUT
The National Publicity Secretary of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, Mr Audu Amba, in an interview with The PUNCH, said for the country to advance, well-trained and adequately motivated teachers in science and other subjects should be employed.
He said the country had always had problems with dearth of Mathematics and science teachers.
Amba stated, “We are appealing to the government to see to the need to recruit qualified science teachers. There are some qualified ones on the streets. Most countries that have gone far in education have taken these areas seriously. Today, in our country, you find that most parents want their children to study sciences. As such, emphasis should also be placed on the recruitment of qualified science teachers.”
In Cross River State, the Principal, West African People’s Institute, Mrs Mercy Donatus Etim, in an interview with The PUNCH, said the school did not have enough teachers.
“We do not have teachers for subjects such as English, Mathematics, Sciences, History, Geography and Economics. We have only 72 teachers. When I took over, we were almost 190. Some left. Some were transferred. Some retired. There have been no replacements,” she stated.
In the absence of a spokesman for the state Ministry of Education, officials of the ministry declined to comment. They said they were civil servants that were not authorised to speak to the media.
In Rivers State, public secondary schools also decried a shortage of teachers in key subject areas.
At the Government Secondary School, Abua, Abua/Odual Local Government Area of the state, a teacher, who pleaded anonymity, said, “We have 30 teachers in the junior secondary, while the senior secondary has 25. The ideal number of teachers, which would have been sufficient, is a minimum of 150 teachers, considering the population of pupils in the school.”
Also, the Chairman, NUT, Rivers State chapter, Lucky Nkpogono, in an interview with The PUNCH, decried public school teachers’ conditions of service in the state.
Nkponogo also lamented lack of teachers’ promotion since 2009, adding that about 15,000 teachers in the state were owed two months’ salaries since 2016.
He noted that teachers were last recruited six years ago, adding that after the recruitment, there was mass retirement of members of the academic staff of public secondary schools.
This, he stated, affected a lot of qualified teachers, adding that this situation might worsen if the order given by the National Education Council that all unqualified teachers should leave the teaching service after December 31, this year was obeyed by the state government.
However, the Permanent Secretary, Rivers State Ministry of Education, Dagogo Hart, said he was not authorised to comment on the issues when The PUNCH contacted him.
The PUNCH’s investigations in Ondo State’s public secondary schools including the Comprehensive High School, Ikare-Akoko; Ikare Grammar School, Ikare Akoko; and Aponmu High School, Aponmu in the Akure South Local Government Area of the state, showed there was a shortage of teachers.
A pupil in one of the schools, who identified herself as Bola, told one of our correspondents that there were very few teachers in her school.
“We have only one science teacher in our school here. He is the only one handling Physics, Chemistry and Biology from SS1 to the SS3. Many of our classrooms are in dilapidated condition,” she stated.
‘A teacher teaches six subjects in Ondo school’
Corroborating the pupil, a teacher, who pleaded anonymity, said, “We are being overworked. If you go to many secondary schools in Ondo State, there is none of them that does not have one challenge or the other. In our own school here, teachers are few in number and we are expected to take many subjects. A teacher can take as many as six subjects.
“Another teacher can take a subject from JSS I to SS3. Go and see our classrooms, some have already been abandoned. Some are almost collapsing.”
‘Teachers employed last in 2007 in Ondo’
Confirming this, the state Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools, Mr Dayo Adebiyi, in an interview with The PUNCH, said apart from insufficiency of teachers in the state, the quality assurance agency, which deals with the inspection of teachers, was no more in operation in the state.
Adebiyi said, “We have the challenge of a shortage of teachers. The government recruited teachers last in 2007. Since then, some have retired. Some have left the service. Some have died and there are no replacements. I believe this present administration will address this challenge.”
However, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State said his administration had performed well in the education sector, saying many schools had been rehabilitated while the administration was planning to recruit more teachers.
Akeredolu, who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Segun Ajiboye, added that some equipment had been procured for the schools.
He said, “Part of our efforts at improving the condition of the schools is that we have released N50m intervention fund for 50 secondary schools damaged by rainstorm in the state. We also procured science equipment for 20 secondary schools worth N90m.
We have also procured textbooks and instructional materials worth N110m for the schools. So, we are not relenting. We inherited some challenges from the past administration, but gradually we will overcome them.”
We sell recharge cards, second hand clothes in school, at home – Edo teachers
In Edo State, some teachers who spoke to one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity, for fear of being victimised, said they engaged in petty trade to augment their salaries.
One of the teachers said, “Many of us engage in petty trading to augment our salaries. Some sell recharge cards and used clothes, both in the school and at home. In my own case, I was able to raise some money from our cooperative to start buying and selling of used clothes.”
But the Chairperson of Association of Secondary School Teachers, Dr Brigitte Asemota, when contacted by The PUNCH, said the state government had done a lot for the teachers
Asemota did not comment on when teachers were recruited in the state.
He, however, denied allegations that some teachers engaged in petty trading.
She said, “That’s mundane. They don’t have time for that. There is no teacher that does not have enough workload. So, to think that there’s still room for any kind of side hustle is a blatant lie. The state government pays salaries as and when due. They have really done a lot for teachers in the state.”
But the state Commissioner for Education, Emmanuel Agbale, refused to respond to calls placed to his phone neither did he reply text messages sent to his phone.
Investigations in Ekiti State public secondary schools also revealed that the state was in need of teachers.
The state Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools, Mr Sola Adigun, lamented that teachers were last employed in the state about five years ago.
He said, “At that time, we had 12,000 teachers in the state, but today, we are less than 7,000 and the population of pupils in the schools are on the increase. Thereby, the UNESCO recommendation of 25 pupils to one teacher is not applicable in Ekiti.
“There are some schools that do not have teachers. We are expecting the government to employ qualified, committed and motivated teachers. There must be continuation of previous training programmes which the administration did during its first term. The teachers must be motivated to give their best. Promotions for the past six years have not been implemented.”
But the Commissioner for Education, Foluso Daramola, blamed the decay and neglect of the sub-sector on the immediate past administration in the state.
He, however, said the government had directed that a list of teachers required in all public schools in the state should be compiled.
“Government will do something about it before long,” he said.
He added that a “rural allowance” was being paid to teachers in the villages to motivate them and encourage urban-rural drift.
One of our correspondents also visited Osogbo Government High School, Osogbo; Saint Peters Middle School, Omi Okun, Ile Ife; and Kosile Memorial Middle School, Itagunmodi in the Atakumosa West Local Government Area of Osun State.
The teachers complained about the delay in the payment of their salaries. The schools in the rural areas were the worst hit by a shortage of teachers.
Some pupils in Kosile Middle and High schools, who spoke to The PUNCH on condition of anonymity, said they did not have enough teachers.
They added that teachers working in the school were not living in the village.
“Our teachers don’t live in this village. They come to school every day. We don’t have enough teachers. In all, we have 12 teachers for both the middle and high schools, excluding the Principal. Whenever there is rainfall, pupils in the Middle School get drenched because roofs of their classrooms are bad,” one of the pupils said.
Secondary school teachers recruited last in Osun in 2013 – Union
Buttressing the point, the Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools in the state, Adediran Olusegun, told The PUNCH that teachers were recruited last in the state in 2013.
“The issue of arrears of salaries owed by the previous government is key. We are owed 30 months of half salary. That translates to 15 months of full salaries. The issue of promotion is also there. Many of us got out promotion seven years ago,” he added.
The state Supervisor for Education, Mr Kola Omotunde-Young, could not be reached through his mobile telephone. He had yet to respond to text messages sent to him as of the time of sending this report.
‘Many teachers in Makurdi are wives of senior civil servants’
The PUNCH gathered in Benue State that most of the secondary school female teachers in Makurdi, the state capital, were wives of senior civil servants and government officials in the state.
It was gathered that these category of teachers were not dedicated to work.
A principal, who confided in The PUNCH said, “You will discover that most of the teachers in the secondary schools in the state are women.These women are wives of senior civil servants and top government officials. These people always resist transfer to rural areas and they do what they like.”
One of our correspondents reported that most of the schools he visited had more female teachers than male teachers.
The teachers also complained about delay in the payment of their salaries. One of the teachers said, “Some of us engage in buying and selling to augment what we earn as salaries. Remember that teachers in secondary schools are being owed five months salary arrears.”
The Principal of the Government College, Aper Aku Stadium Road, Makurdi, Mrs Agnes Liam, said there was a shortage of teachers in the school, saying the institution had 80 academic staff members.
She stated, “We don’t have teachers for Economics, Information and Communication Technology, Biology, Commerce and Physics. Government should recruit more teachers, train and retrain those already employed to enhance the performance of pupils and teachers.
“We have almost 200 computers donated to the school by our old boys but we are not using them because there are no ICT teachers. In a school with 2,400 pupils, we have only one computer teacher. This is bad. Government must do something about this.”
Efforts to get the Permanent Secretary of the state Ministry of Education, Mrs Elizabeth Ede were not successful as she did not pick calls to her mobile telephone, neither did she reply to a text message sent to her phone.
But an official in the ministry, who pleaded anonymity because he was not authorised to talk to journalists, said the immediate past former Commissioner for Education, Prof Dennis Ityavyah, had written a memo to Governor Samuel Ortom on the problems.
7,000 teachers retire in Ogun without replacements
On his part, the Ogun State Chairman of the NUT, Mr Titi Adebanjo, in an interview with The PUNCH, said teachers were employed last in the state in 2009.
“For your information, since 2009 till date, more than 7,000 teachers have retired in Ogun State without replacements. We have advised the government but they are always complaining about funding,” he said.
He denied allegations that teachers in the state were not dedicated, saying “but we are not happy that some of their entitlements have not been paid.”