Scores of teachers in primary and secondary schools in Edo State, yesterday, held a protest rally against the state government’s plan to conduct a competency test for all teachers in the state.
The teachers, who stormed Auchi, Etsako-West Local Government Area of the state, rejected the plan by the government to subject them to any form of test.
It will be recalled that the government had fixed February 8 as date for the competency test for all primary and secondary school teachers in the state.
The competency test is coming on the heels of the sack of 836 teachers by the government in 2013, due to falsification of age and certificate forgery, among others.
Meanwhile, Governor Adams Oshiomhole, yesterday, insisted that the proposed competency test for teachers in the state was not meant to witch-hunt anybody.
Disagreeing with Oshiomhole, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, through its state chairman, Chief Dan Orbih, accused the government of using “the competency test, along with some other policies including repressive tax policies, to shore up the state’s depleted vault.”
Orbih insisted that the use of the competency test as a yardstick for retrenchment means using teachers as scapegoats for the dire financial crisis the state government has plunged the state into.
Oshiomhole, when civil society organisations in the state paid him a call, said that only those incompetent to teach should be afraid of the test, noting, “any of the problems dragging us down, the earlier we identify it and find the courage to fix it, the earlier can we make up for lost time.”
He argued that even if everybody cannot go to the university, everyone deserves to have sound basic primary and junior secondary education, adding: “In this state, I am sure that we have many qualified teachers who are unemployed. So why should we fold our hands and watch those not qualified take charge of the future leaders of our state?
“A level 12 teacher earns more than a civil servant. This is in recognition of the importance we attach to education. We are not getting what we should . God will punish me if as governor of this state, who has been so favoured by every person in terms of the number of votes I got from the local government areas, that I knowingly dumped the Edo child on teachers, who will not impart knowledge in them.”
Orbih, faulting the test, said: “We condemn in very strong terms, the decision to conduct the competency test. It is discriminatory and unacceptable. For it to be justified, the state government should first subject everyone to competency test, starting from the Government House. We sympathise with teachers at this time because we know they are being made the sacrificial lamb.
“As we have repeatedly stated, the proper thing is to organise in-house training for teachers as done by the administration of the late Ambrose Alli. Teachers who were found lacking then were not discarded as being planned, but trained to become useful to themselves and their families. We say Governor Oshiomhole should not turn people who are bread winners in their families to bread seekers.”
Speaking during the rally on behalf of the teachers, Mr Mike Uhunwangho, Chairman, Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, Edo Chapter, said that teachers would not participate in the competency test.
He said the protest was being carried out across the state, adding that teachers would not be subjected to the test.
“We are unanimously rejecting the call by the Edo State Government to have us write a fresh competency test to determine our suitability for teaching jobs in the state. We have directed all the teachers not to attend any form of competency test nor accept any letter from anybody inviting them for the test,” he said.
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