Nasir el-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State, says the over 21,000 unqualified teachers sacked recently by his administration are “mere illiterates” who have no business being teachers in the first place.
He was responding to critics suggesting that instead of sacking the ‘unqualified’ teachers, the state government should retrain them.
“Those that are suggesting retraining have not read our various statements on this issue. This administration of the APC in Kaduna State has already spent N650m on in the last two-and-a-half years since we took office,” el-Rufai said on Thursday night during on interview with Channels Television’s News at 10.
“We have trained teachers, we have brought funds from the global partnership for education to train teachers. But you cannot train an illiterate to be a teacher.
“If a person is a mere illiterate, you cannot train him to be a teacher. You can only train someone who has the basic skills to be better. The situation we have in which people cannot answer questions that Primary Four people can answer, it means that they are incapable of being trained. Those that are talking about training do not get it.
“These ones that are going are untrainable. They can do something else with their lives, and we will do everything to give them the opportunity to do so but not teaching.
“Some that were hired even with NCE certificates, some even with degree certificates in education, failed the test which is a big shock to me because we posted these test (results) online for everyone to see the questions that those so-called teachers were failing; just to make the point that these people are beyond redemption.
“We cannot train them to be teachers. We can train them to do something else – absolutely, but not teaching. They are not qualified to teach.”
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), led by Ayuba Wabba, its National Chairman, embarked on a massive protest in Kaduna on Thursday to register displeasure with the teachers’ sack, but el-Rufai said he expected such resistance.
“We knew there would be a resistance but for us, education is one of the foundational components of building a modern society and we are not going to compromise on the quality of education and the quality of education relies on the quality of the teacher more than any other tool or infrastructure,” he said.
“We have already taken second, third and fourth looks at this situation. We have studied what previous governments have tried to do and there is no going back.
“I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that we are not going to reverse our decision; these teachers are gone, we are going to employ new teachers.
“The process of testing and interviewing the 25,000 teachers we are hiring to replace the 21,780 that we have fired is on, and we are going to go ahead with it.
“As I said, it is the children of poor and ordinary people of Kaduna State that go to public schools. We are committed to ensuring that they get decent public education as I got it when I was growing up in Daudawa in Katsina State.
“I went to a public school and I got decent education. I was orphaned at the age of eight but I got free, basic education and that is why I am where I am. I intend, at whatever price, at whatever cost, to bequeath that to children of ordinary people in Kaduna State. There is no going back.”