Recently, Kano State government gave a directive to the effect that 5,000 of its civil servants who have teaching qualifications should be redeployed to classrooms. The intendment of the government is to address the dearth of teaching staff in the state school system, a situation that is threatening the effective implementation of the free education policy of the present administration in the state.
The State’s Information Commissioner, Muhammad Garba, said that the affected staff who are serving in Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) as well as Local Government Areas (LGAs), were found to have possessed teaching credentials and hence would be sent to schools including tertiary institutions in the state.
According to him, there are 575 officers with teaching qualifications serving in MDAs, while 3,712 others who work in the state’s 44 LGAs, have duplicate functions. He stated that of this number, 19 have PhDs, 55 Masters, 1,100 have Bachelor’s degree in Education, 2,366 NCE and 10 have Diploma in Education.
Kano, which is the largest state in the North in terms of population and second to Lagos in the whole country, has an annoyingly large number of out-of-school children with a significant percentage of them loitering the streets begging even as primary education is officially free and compulsory in the country. It must be understood that for education to be free, there must be in place the requisite number of teachers, good teaching equipment and learning environment.
In Kano State, available records indicate that there are 59, 238 teachers for pre-primary, primary, junior secondary and senior secondary schools with about 4,735, 015 pupils in 8,801 schools. Also, the state has 43,803 teachers for its 3, 446,326 pupils in public primary schools. Clearly, this translates to a pupil-teacher ratio of 1:79. To say this is grossly inadequate is an understatement more so that the national pupil-teacher ratio was 37.55 as of 2010.
It is a situation to worry about that a state with this frighteningly poor ratio also has 5000 workers with requisite teaching certificates wasting away in offices pushing files when they ought to be in the classrooms adding value to government’s education policies.
There is no gainsaying it that proper placement of staff is necessary for effective service delivery. Unfortunately, across the civil service in local, states and the federal governments, there are widespread cases of improper placement with the resultant palpable redundancy that is evident in those places.
In our considered opinion, this move by the Kano state government to redeploy those with teaching qualification to classroom is commendable and should be emulated by other states and the federal government. But more than anything else, the decision has brought to the fore, the overarching need to address the general apathy associated with teaching.
Majority of those engaged today as teachers, especially at primary and secondary schools, see the job as a stopgap measure pending when they get their desired job. It is ironic, in our view, that even with the realisation that teachers play key roles in educational development of any nation, successive governments have failed to pay adequate attention to their welfare.
We also note with sadness that in spite of its importance, the education sector is left without the requisite work force owing largely to disdain with which teachers are treated. Little wonder, therefore, that the nation has continued to witness a decline in the standard of education.
In most states of the federation, the civil service is over bloated with redundant staff whose real contribution to the economy is insignificant. Often, the staff stay under the shades in their respective ministries, departments and agencies to discuss Annual Performance Evaluation Report-APER-forms, salary increment and promotion without necessarily contributing anything tangible to the system.
It is commonplace to see scores of staff in MDAs without clearly defined work schedules. All they do is to guzzle public funds in the name of salaries and other emoluments. It is from this perspective that we argue that it is about time the government, at all levels, addressed the issue of under-employment in the civil service.
Kano state has admirably set the ball rolling by redeploying some of its redundant workforce especially those with requisite teaching qualifications, to the classroom to bridge the wide gap in the pupil-teacher ratio.
This newspaper also implores the authorities to find out why teaching is abysmally unattractive and takes steps to remedy the situation. Doing this, in our opinion, entails providing conducive environment for both teaching and learning aside from ensuring an improved pay package for all those engaged in the moulding of young minds.
While this is going on, we appreciate the courage of the Kano state government in arriving at this decision which we believe will go a long way in putting the state’s school system on the path to sustained development.