By Kevwe Ebireri/Jefferson Ibiwale
Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State is set to drop more teachers in public schools as part of intervention to salvage the sector from decadence and restore it to the path of excellence.
Oshiomhole made this known on Monday during an Education Summit held at the Imaguero Collage, Benin City, to access the level of progress achieved so far in the sector.
He said being a product of public school, he has a duty to restore public schools in the state to its former glory so that poor people in the state can afford quality education for their children.
The governor stressed that the poor performances of students in external examinations has its foundation in the poor quality of teachers, noting that if the teacher is defective, it will inevitably rub off on the pupils he or she teaches.
He noted sadly that during a recent verification exercise conducted for teachers in the state, it became clear that over a thousand teachers were either untrained, over-aged, deficient (stuttering or physically challenged), or unable to express themselves in simple correct spoken or written English.
The result of keeping this class of people in the industry, he said, is the half-baked students produced who are either unable to cope in external competitions or unable to defend their results, as in the case of those who patronise “miracle centres”.
Oshiomhole noted that when his administration came on board in November 2008, the state was notorious for these “miracle centres”. A miracle centre is a place (usually a school) where examinations are compromised to ensure that registered students almost always come out in excellent grades.
He therefore added that the decision of his administration to sack more teachers should not be misconstrued, as it is a simple case of replacing the bad with the good;, noting also that there were a lot of young qualified persons, even of Edo origin, willing to work and who should be given an opportunity.
“We have spent time in reviving education in Edo State, we are also clear that we have made investment in the sector. We want a situation where certificates, which students earn will be a true reflection of their studies. We will now change from competency test to assessment test,” the governor said.
Stakeholders at the meeting insisted that the teachers must submit themselves to the test, stressing that those who had skeletons in their cupboard were the ones afraid to take the test.
A former vice chancellor of the state-owned Ambrose Alli University, Dennis Agbolahon, was appointed chairman of a committee to conduct the assessment test.
However, labour leaders and the state chapter of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, shunned the summit saying its outcome was already predetermined.
It would be recalled that the teachers and the state government have been at loggerheads over plans by the state government to conduct a competency test for teachers, a move the teachers have vehemently opposed.
State secretary of NUT, Akin Adeojo, who spoke to journalists on phone, said it was unnecessary to attend the summit as the state government had concluded plan to sack teachers in the state.
“We did not attend because the outcome was already pre-determined. The governor wants teachers to write the competency test at all cost. We would have attended if we saw that the summit would be fair. What is the point discussing an issue that has been decided?” he questioned.
He recalled that the governor had previously sacked 926 teachers in December last year and is not satisfied.
Oshiomhole said during the summit that the state government will continue to explore ways to reach out to the union to brainstorm on the best way out of the crisis.
The meeting had in attendance traditional rulers, parents, market leaders, retired educationists, civil society groups, members of the state executive council and traders.