The continued shortage of instructional materials in public schools has drawn concerns from stakeholders who are worried that teachers in some cases buy as simple as chalk in order to teach their pupils/students in schools while government looks the other way. PATRICK OCHOGA (Benin City), TEMITOPE OLUWATOSIN (Akure) and ACHOR ABIMAJE (Jos) reports.
When Edo State chapter of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) threatened to down tool last month over what they claimed has become a big bug in their eyes over time-the issue of providing instructional materials for schools from their meagre salaries in the state, not a few were shocked at the level of degradation in public schools across the country.
The embarrassing situation further reinforced the reason advanced by those who patronise the private school system of the education where teaching materials have never been in short supply.
The union also threatened to embark on statewide indefinite strike actions after the expiration of 21 days ultimatum to resolve all contention issues with it.
The union said the ultimatum became necessary following the expiration of 45 days grace period it allowed the state government to engage in mutual resolution of the challenges put before it in a communique issued in its last July executive meeting.
This was contained in a nine-point communique signed by Comrade Pius Okhueleigbe and Moni Mike Modesty- Itua, state chairman and acting secretary respectively at the end of the Union’s State Executive Council meeting held in Benin City.
According to the communique, “That Edo State Public Primary and Secondary School heads and their teachers are tired of using their meagre salaries to provide instructional materials such as chalk, markers, diaries, registers and many others for teaching and learning in schools, due to the failure of government to provide subventions to schools since the year 2012 and the recent near zero supply of such items to schools.
“Therefore, government must in the next 21 days, put up a very concrete and result oriented policy/plan to commence the release of subventions to all public primary and secondary schools in the state.”
It further said, “At the end of the meeting, SWEC agreed that the union has unimaginably cooperated with the state government in all positive fronts with a view to moving the education sector to the desired Eldorado, but the government has refused to act in utmost good faith in reciprocating the good gestures of teachers in the state.”
Many had wondered that if the teachers in public schools provide instructional materials, what would become the quality of knowledge giving to pupils and students of such schools.
Teachers are said to likely down tool because of issues related to their welfare and not mere teaching materials as chalk, markers, diaries, registers and others, which ordinarily should be at the disposal of the teachers without any hassles.
Meanwhile, unlike the fate of their counterpart in Edo State, teaching materials like chalks, textbooks, pens, markers and others have been essential tools for teachers in Ondo State.
However, the lack of teaching materials in the government-owned schools is not prevalent in public schools of Ondo State as there is enough provision on ground to teach and tutor the students, according to our investigation.
According to Mrs Omolara-Adelugba Fayehun, a tutor at the Unity Secondary School in Akure, the management of the school is in charge of supplying teachers in the school with the teaching materials.
Fayehun said that the lack of teaching materials in the school was not common as the school management regularly supplies the teachers with the writing and instructing materials.
“There is nothing like, lack of teaching materials in our own school because the management always supplies the teachers with all the necessary materials ranging from the marker, biros, textbooks that they will need in teaching the students.
“So, here the teachers have no excuse not to teach their students as all the materials they require are always being supplied so as to aid the teaching process in the classes,” she said.
Speaking on the phone, Mr Sola Adeyemi, a teacher with the Oyemekun Grammar School in Akure said that the school management, which is in charge of giving out teaching materials to the teachers, does so regularly.
Mr Adeyemi, who teaches science subjects, however, disclosed that the only problem facing the public secondary school is the use of outdated practical materials to teach the science students.
“Like here in our school, there are sufficient materials to teach the students as the management always provides chalks, pens and markers for the teachers every month.
“But what is nauseating here is the materials to teach the science students at the laboratory, the laboratory rooms that we have here are already depleting and also decaying with archaic teaching materials like chemicals.
“You would be surprised that there are times we would have to result in teaching the students pure theory work and give them home work to research on their own when there are no practical materials with which to teach them.
One of the principals at the Aquinas College, Akure in Akure South local government area of the state, who preferred anonymity, said although there are always shortages of the materials especially the ‘chalks’, he added that the management was able to come up with an idea to avoid wastage of the limited supply by the students.
“In our school, we supply the chalks to the class representatives (captains) who always come to pick it up at the staff office whenever there is need for it to teach the students.
“We noticed that if you give one pack of the chalks to the students, they always waste it, so we came up with the idea that if you’re having a subject, it is either the teacher takes it along when leaving the office or the class captain comes in and picks them up for that particular subject,” he said.
On his part, the acting secretary of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) in Ondo State chapter, Solomon Igbelowowa, said there had never been complains on lack of teaching materials in the public schools of the state from the teachers.
Mr Igbelowowa said that what is only prevalent is the acute shortage of teachers in all the 18 local government areas of the state, adding that close to 100 teachers retire from the state teaching service every year thereby, leaving many classrooms empty.
“The lack of educational teaching materials is not the issue here because I know necessary materials to teach the public students are available but what is worrisome is the dearth of teachers mostly in the public primary school system of the state” he said.
LEADERSHIP Friday’s investigation revealed that out of the total of N 505, 000, 000. 00 budgeted as capital project for the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in the state; a paltry five million naira only was budgeted for the provision of education tools/materials in the 2018 budget of the state.
Reacting on the development, the public relations officer of the Plateau State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Mr Richard Nanpon Jonah, told our correspondent in Jos that teachers in the state have never used their money to buy chalks for use in the classroom in public schools in the state.
He also said teachers’ salaries are being paid as at when due. He noted that, no primary school teacher is being owed salary in the state.
Speaking on the issue of teachers buying instructional materials like chalk and other school consumables, Jonah said recently, the state government, through the board, release the sum of N300 million naira to buy consumable chalk inclusive for all the public primary schools in the state.
According to him, the board has taken delivery of another consignment of consumables like chalks and other instructional materials for public schools in the state, adding that immediately the school resumes academic activities, they will commence the disbursement of the instructional materials to ensure effective learning in all the public primary schools in the state.
He denied the insinuation that teachers in the state are using their own money to buy chalks and other instructional materials pointing out that the state public schools are not lacking in terms of chalks and other teaching aids.
LEADERSHIP Friday recalls that recently, Plateau SUBEB pledged to pay special allowances to teachers posted to rural areas of the state to enhance their productivity.
The executive chairman of the board, Prof Mathew Sule, made the promise in Jos during the distribution of some Hilux vans procured by the board to the 17 local government areas of the state.
The board procured the vehicles to facilitate effective monitoring of schools in the state.
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