You’re eight. Yet to suffer the indignity of a fellow student politely asking that you slide out dubs wedged between their ass crack during the nerve wracking JAMB examination (true story). Or needlessly having to learn the many ‘rax’es of a cockroach for WAEC. Oh no, your biggest worry is maneuvering the many shaped world of Quantitative and Verbal reasoning textbooks. But — imagine you couldn’t even manage that; not owed to any real shortcoming of yours, but rather because your teacher at the time, took the ‘teaching’ portion of their job description to be a passing suggestion, rather than the mandate it very clearly is.
For the hapless students of Kaduna State, which had a whopping 21 780 teachers fail to pass a Primary 4 level competency examination in 2017, this was no doubt their reality.
According to Governor Nasir El-Rufai, the state, in partnership with the Nigerian Union of Teachers, decided to evaluate the competency of public school teachers. They just wanted to make sure those charged with making sure the formative years of young minds aren’t completely shot to rubbish, were actually capable of doing so.
33 000 teachers were tested. But rather than give grown teachers, I don’t know, anything but pre-pubescent level questions to answer, the state government decided to test their reasoning skills, using questions that ideally, shouldn’t have phased a regular reasoning Primary 4 pupil.
As it turned out, my estimation was a little too presumptuous, as 66% of the teachers failed to get at least 75% in the test questions posed.
You need to understand that these teachers actually headed classes, and gave tests and somehow also wondrously set examination questions for students year in and out. By failing to hit that 75% floor, the reality is, even they couldn’t manage an A in classes they were personally handling.
Well, proving there is no where Nigeria’s three headed nepotism monster won’t rear its ugly head, the appointment of the Kaduna State primary school teachers had for a time, been a largely politicised affair. With sorely unqualified individuals posing as teachers, answers like these were only to be expected:
Understandably, this led to the dismissal of the erring teachers. All 21 780 of them.
The People’s Response
Far as I’m concerned, anything less than symbolically asking for the heads of the teacher- hiring committees or whoever was directly responsible for their appointments, was an undeserving response to the situation.
But would you know it, that expectation was a little too lofty for how things really played out.
Earlier on, it was mentioned that the competency examination was carried out in conjunction with the NUT. This body, somehow operating under the missguided notion that individuals unable to properly list the three states of matter were teachers, withdrew support for their mass dismissal.
According to the Chairman of the State Council of the NUT, Audu Amba, their withdrawal was based on the fact that 60% was taken to be the cut-off mark and not 75%. Somehow they thought saying this out loud sounded intelligent.
Also vocal about his displeasure at the teacher’s dismissal, Senator Shehu Sani, whose well-educated children would probably mistake a public-school classroom for an above-ground dungeon of sorts, decried the sack of the near illiterate teachers, citing it as “the height of lunacy”.
He also had this to say about the situation: “Incompetence is not a reason but an excuse to sack thousands of teachers owed salaries for months”. This sentiment was shared by a host of other people.
What Happened Afterwards?
I want to say the state hired more competent teachers and the primary school students read their times tables and lived happily ever after, but this story is yet to have a happy ending.
To deal with the mass exodus of about 22 000 teachers, the state government resolved to employ 25 000 teachers in batches, to replace them.
In April of 2018 however, following the recruitment of 15 897 teachers, the government was forced to sack 4 562 of them, following their failure to write out a decent acceptance letter.
Guess we should be grateful they hadn’t magically discovered internet templates in the year of the Lord, 2018. They had found their ways into the state government’s service through dubious means, as the State Commissioner for Education, Alhaji Ja’afaru Sani stated.
The remainder of 11,335 teachers which included degree and master-degree holders, were deployed to 4 000 schools.
In December of 2018, the State Government recruited an additional 13 606 teachers to make up the 25 000 teachers required to turn the State’s education system around.
Here’s hoping we’ve heard the last of incompetent teachers in Kaduna State.