Posted by News Express | 9 July 2017 | 1,846 times
Primary school teachers have embarked on a peaceful protest in Bayelsa State demanding transfer of their financial obligations from the local government to Federal and state governments.
About 500 of the teachers under the aegis of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) marched from their secretariat located at Erepa through Otiotio to the Isaac Boroh Expressway, Yenagoa chanting solidarity songs.
Leading the protesting teachers were the state’s Chairman, Mr. Kalama Tonpre and the Principal Secretary, Mr. Johnson Hector. The teachers stated that the local governments lacked the capacity to pay their salaries, subventions and welfare packages.
They lamented that they had been subjected to untold hardship by the local government areas, which owed them various arrears of salaries.
The teachers waved placards with inscriptions such as, ‘Pay teacher’s salary for sustainable education,’ ‘Show total love for education,’ ‘Stop politicising primary education, it is dangerous,’ and ‘Funding primary education should be the responsibilities of states and Federal governments.’
Addressing the crowd of teachers, Hector said the protest was a mandate of the national body of the union to create awareness about the poor condition of teachers ahead of the proposed amendment of the 1999 Constitution.
He said that NUT was in total support of the local government autonomy on the condition that the funding and salary components of primary school teachers be transferred to state governments.
His words: “We are not against local government autonomy but we are of the position that the salary component of the primary school teacher should be removed from the local government because it is obvious that local government doesn’t have the capacity to pay primary school teachers.
“We don’t want to be owed salaries for 12 months. We don’t want teachers to go on strike and close schools for months.”
On his part, Tonpre said the funding and salary obligations when transferred should be made a first line charge of the revenue allocations to states.
He stated: “The salaries should be deducted as first line charge from the federal account so that the money will be handed over to UBEC (Universal Basic Education Commission) which should transfer it to SUBEB’s (State Universal Basic Education Board) accounts so that the teachers will be paid and the foundation of education will not collapse.
“Primary school teachers have suffered in the hands of local government council chairmen and authorities. A house built on a shaky foundation is bound to crack and collapse.
“So, every human being, every President, every governor, lawmakers and prominent people are products of primary school. Without primary education, the system will collapse.”
Addressing the protesters, a member of the state’s House of Assembly, Mr. Gentle Emelah, who represented Speaker Kombowei Benson, said the assembly would look into the issues raised by the teachers. (Channels TV)
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