From Tunde Rahman,Lokoja
The Academic Staff Union Secondary Schools has decried the shortage of teachers in public secondary schools in Kogi State, following mass retirement of 507 teachers in the last two years.
Mr Ranti Ojo, Chairman, Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools (ASUSS), disclosed this in Lokoja weekend while speaking at an event organised to mark the 2019 World Teachers Day.
Ojo said that the teachers, mostly from the secondary schools in the state retired in 2016/2017, 2017/2018 and 2018/2019 academic sessions.
He said that 257 of them alone retired during the current academic session, while 74 retired in 2017/2018 academic session. According to him, the development has further compounded the problems of education in the state. He called on the state government to fill the gaps immediately.
“For over nine years, our union has been decrying the abysmal shortage of teachers in our schools. As a result of the effect of the screening exercise and the massive compulsory retirement of workers in the state, the situation has been made more critical,” he said.
He lauded ongoing move by the government to recruit more teachers but pleaded that the 500 teachers recruited in 2015 by the immediate past administration be absorbed into the system.
Ojo also called on the government to pay the outstanding salary, and leave bonus allowances of his members, saying that they received leave bonus last in 2012.
Also speaking at a separate event to mark the day, the state Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Mr Thomas Ayodele raised alarm over the vacuum created by the mass retirement at the basic education sector in the state.
He expressed displeasure over the attitude of the government to welfare of teachers and demanded the payment their outstanding salaries and allowances.
The Chairman also stressed the need for training and training of teachers in the state by the government, saying that this was necessary to ensure quality teaching and learning in public primary and secondary schools.
The state Commissioner for Education, Mrs Rosemary Osikoya, admitted that the state had about 15,000 teaching vacancies in all secondary schools across the state.
Osikoya, said that Gov. Yahaya Bello was aware of the development and had given approval for the recruitment of fresh 3,700 teachers to fill some of the vacancies.
She said that government will fill the remaining vacancies in phases, saying that only professional teachers will be recruited, henceforth.
The Commissioner said that more teachers would be recruited to teach Mathematics, English Language, Guidance and Counseling and Sciences being the state’s priority for now.
Osikoya commended the teachers for their efforts, which she said had made the state to improve upon its ranking as the number one in examination malpractice in 2017 to number 24 in 2019.