the Nigeria Teachers Union (NUT) has threatened to launch a national strike if the Kaduna state government does not reverse its decision to sack 2,357 teachers, including its national president, Audu Amba.
The Nigerian News Agency reports that the union made its position known on Wednesday during the National Executive Council meeting which was held in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) of Nigeria.
The union’s deputy national president, Kelvin Nwankwo, said the dismissal was due to the refusal of the president and some teachers to write a proficiency test organized by the Kaduna state government, among other reasons.
“It is very sad and curious that the dismissal letter regarding the president of NUT was made public through social networks, even when he was not notified.
“Clearly the intention is to intimidate the NUT president and shame teachers in Nigeria,” Nwankwo said.
The union reiterated its commitment to stand with the president and other laid-off teachers in the state.
“The NUT family reaffirms its commitment to support its revered president, Comrade Audu Titus Amba, and all teachers in Kaduna State.
“The union will continue to play its historic role in upholding the rights of teachers in Nigeria and no amount of anti-labor policies from the Kaduna state government and elsewhere can diminish this resolve,” he added.
The union claimed that instead of issuing dismissal letters, the government should have explored the option of training and retraining to improve the competence of teachers.
“We are teachers and the most apt to understand the concept of test administration, which is an established and accepted tool for evaluating a student’s performance in their educational career.
“However, this noble tool has been maliciously bastardized and abused in Kaduna state.
“It has been deployed as an instrument of vendetta directed at union leaders, who dared to play their statutory and historic role of advocating for the advancement of teachers’ welfare.
“The National Executive Council (NEC) of our great Union in good faith, in accordance with international best practice in the teaching profession, advocated that the Kaduna state government should embark on a program of continuing teacher education.
“This is what you get in other professions like Nursing, Medicine and Law,” the union further said.
NUT, which noted that around 21,780 teachers were laid off or retired in 2018, said the recent layoff was too much.
“It is pertinent to state that the alleged competence test of the Kaduna State Government was carried out during the prosecution of the application No. NICN/54/2021 before the National Labor Court, Kaduna Division.
“In addition, the alleged dismissal of 2,357 teachers was made during the processing of another Motion on notification,” said NUT.
He said the motion sought an order preventing the Kaduna state government from firing any teacher in Kaduna state public schools for failing to write or pass their competency test.
The Kaduna State Universal Basic Education Board (KADSUBEB), the government agency in charge of financing and managing basic education in the state, announced on Sunday the dismissal of 2,357 teachers.
He said the decision was made because the teachers did not participate in the government’s recent proficiency test.
The government had introduced the teacher competency test in the state some years ago. The development led to the firing of 21,780 teachers in 2018, reportedly for failing the test.
The government, however, recruited another 25,000 to replace them.
Since 2018, the state government has continued to organize tests for teachers to prove their competence and professionalism.
But in 2021, the government said 27,662 teachers took part in the test, but a total of 165 of the number performed woefully and were sacked.
Government agency spokesman Hauwa Mohammed, in a statement announcing the dismissal, said 2,192 primary school teachers, including Mr. Amba, had been sacked for refusing to sit the competency test.