Home Opinion On Teachers Crisis in Borno State: How Gov Zulum is Salvaging a Bad Situation

On Teachers Crisis in Borno State: How Gov Zulum is Salvaging a Bad Situation

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Prof Usman A Tar

The Borno State Government has been battling with the problems of teachers’ recruitment, remuneration and retention. Over the years, unscrupulous employment practices, particularly by Local Education Authorities, have resulted in the engagement of persons who were not qualified into the teaching profession contrary to the national standards. Indeed, many individuals were indiscriminately employed as teachers on the basis of ethnic or political reasons. These individuals not only lack the basic qualifications to stand before pupils, but refused to subject themselves to gaining the necessary qualification that will enable them to acquire the required competence in teaching pedagogy.

In this piece, I address the vexing issues of the crisis of the teaching profession in Borno State. This is in response to recent negative commentaries, fake news, misleading information and mischief that are bandied in the social media. The piece addresses the following: background and diagnosis of the problem; Governor Zulum’s intervention; some lingering issues; and future projection.

Background & Diagnosis of Teacher Recruitment in Borno State

The problem of teacher recruitment, retention and remuneration pre-dated the Zulum Administration. In fact, no particular administration could be blamed for deliberate negligence, as the problem was caused by national policy gaps which allowed local education authorities to fill employment gaps without recourse to employment best practices.

The first problem was the acute shortage of teachers in the market place and the burden faced by Local Government Education Authorities (LGEAs) who had no option than to recruit persons who possess non-teaching qualifications such as ND, HND, BSc, BA, B.Eng. and even SSCE.

The second policy gap was the mismanagement of the baseline requirement for teaching qualification from Grade II to the Nigeria Certificate of Education (NCE), a national policy which came into effect in 1980. Due to the low volume of NCE graduates in many states of the federation including Borno, LGEAs had to absorb non-NCE holders as a temporary measure to fill the gaps.

The third challenge was the politicization of teacher recruitment especially during democratic regimes when politicians flooded the teaching space with their political supporters and hooligans whose only qualifications were party loyalty & nepotism. This category of teachers do not report to work, and where they report they end-up as jesters in the school compound.

The fourth problem is “ghost teacher syndrome” borne by corruption & sharp practices in the recruitment of teachers, a practice that was common during table payment regimes. Local Education Secretaries, School Head Teachers, LGEAs Accountants, either on their own or in convenience with others, load-up the payment vouchers with dummy or imaginary “teachers” who collect their salaries and then share with their sponsors on the basis of agreed sharing formula. The foregoing problems resulted in several negative outcomes: first was the over-bloating of the nominal roll of teachers with all manner of staff: “the good, the bad and the ugly” – known in Borno parlance as “Ali-a, Modu-a, Dala-a” (Tom, Dick & Harry) – who populate the teaching space without providing any services. Second was the colossal rise of salary bills which, in some local government areas, consumed the entire monthly allocation leaving no resource for capital projects. Finally, there was pernicious implosion of the teaching space with “ghost teachers”; holders of fake certificates; party supporters; personal friends & relatives of education administrators and elected politicians. In some local government authorities, this problem festered in geometric progression such that the Ministry of Local Govt had to instruct LGEAs who hold surplus in their salary bill to come to the aid of “imploded” LGEAs.

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