By Ibrahim Sheriff (Gold)
In what appeared like a new year gift, Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara state unveiled plans to recruit a total of 4,700 teachers on December 31st, 2020; 2,701 for basic schools under the Universal Basic Education Board and another 2,000 for senior secondary schools under Kwara State Teaching Service Commission. This came barely a week after the State government sacked 2,414 ‘Sunset’ SUBEB workers recruited by the last administration.
A statement by the Press Secretary of the Kwara state Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development, cited illegalities in the employment process, uncovered by EFCC as reason for the sack. Specifically, the statement said “The government directed the sack of the workers following an investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which showed illegalities in the employment process.”
The government added that the decision, painful yet necessary, was “built on justice and fairness to everyone”, adding that “it is the right thing to be done in the interest of our education sector which has suffered from years of unhealthy practices…”.
However, it is alarming that a government that seeks to treat a civic ailment of illegality and lack of due process in the SUBEB recruitment by the last administration, is also caught in the act of doing so with absolute disregard for the rule of law. As the only lawful body empowered to recruit, appoint, post or dismiss Teachers at the basic education level, a properly constituted Board, is not extant.
Just like the sacked Sunset SUBEB workers, who were allegedly sacked for illegality in their recruitment process, the ongoing recruitment of SUBEB Teachers may just be another voidable exercise. If not now, by successive governments. Unlike illegality, government is perpetual. Any human who does not fight the illegality that favours him lacks the moral justification to complain or fight the unfavourable illegality to him/her.
In a democracy that desires aggressive sectoral turnarounds like ours, there must be a common convergence for institutional strengthening in pursuit of legitimate, robust and sustainable development. In whose interest would it be, if after all the public fortune expended on the novel recruitment process of SUBEB Teachers, they are discarded on the alter of illegality in the farther or nearest future, just like the Sunset teachers?
We cannot build something on nothing and expect it to stand. While the TESCOM recruitment is 100% in order, so far. The ongoing SUBEB recruitment amounts to building something on nothingness. The AbdulRazaq led administration is as guilty as the former administration of Abdulfatah Ahmed over illegality in the employment of the SUBEB Teachers.
Disappointedly, the government on a radio program, said the Board of SUBEB had been appointed since December but not announced, to preserve the objectivity of the recruitment exercise. CPS to the Governor, Rafiu Ajakaiye was quoted to have said “The recruitment process has been going on smoothly and in full compliance with the law. Claims that the process is illegal are speculative.
The SUBEB Board has been in place since December 2020. Not publicly announcing the names of the board members at this time is a strategic step to protect the integrity of the recruitment process and insulate members from undue pressure.”
Unapologetically, the person who made the statement knew within himself it was not true. If there is any iota of truth in the CPS’s claim, the government should respond to the following posers;
I. If the Board were in place as at December, why is the Special Adviser to the Governor the one carrying out the advisory role of the Board as evidenced in a letter dated December 15th, 2020? Only the Board has the right to conduct staff audit and post teachers as they deem necessary.
2. In September, 2020, Kwara State Governor announced the appointment of TESCOM Secretary, while the appointments it Chairman and members of the Commission were also well publicized. it is thus baffling, how that of SUBEB Board, which is claimed to be in place, could be shrouded in secrecy. Even when recruitments are being made into both organizations?
3. Is the Secretary of SUBEB also appointed and not also publicized to avoid pressures, too?
4. The government may wish to do well, by substantiating such repulsive claims. They may wish to present minutes of meetings where strategic decisions leading to the recruitment were made by the Board.
Over 56,000 jostles for 4,701 teaching jobs;
The number of applicants for the 4,701 teaching job in Kwara state is scary, to say the least. It points to the magnitude of unemployment in the state, without sustainable and strategic plans to take productive advantage of these battalions. Applicants for the teaching job are just a segment of our unemployed youths, say X1. What about those not interested in teaching? What of others whose interest ain’t in the public sector?
It is an eye opener for Kwara State government and relevant stakeholders about the level of unemployment in the State and the need to think and act fast, innovatively on how to transform the challenge to prosperity for our dear State.
24.57% of Applicants hits the cutoffs
Out of the 40,652 applicants that sat for the online examination, only 9,991 met the threshold set as cutoffs. This is less than 25% of the total participants and visibly, insinuates general failure in the exercise.
This again, calls for serious concern. It reaffirms our laxity in human capital development, notwithstanding abundance of graduates with different classes of degrees/certificates, as evident in the number of applicants for the jobs. Especially, in the area of information and communication technology.
Recently, during COVID-19 lockdown, the Kwara State government in partnership with an ICT firm trained no fewer than 10,000 youths on digital marketing. The recent reality however showed that such kind of training is not the priority at the moment, but ensuring basic computer literacy for our youths, especially young graduates. To prepare them against losing out of future opportunities that might come their ways.
Differential Cutoff marks for applicants;
The differential cutoff marks for applicants, in consideration for educationally disadvantaged local governments in the State is a welcome development, taking into cognizance the fact that some of these areas hardly host a computer center in their localities. Consequently, most of the applicants from these areas have very little or no exposure to ICT and largely affects their performance in the examinations.
Again, the education system in those parts of the state is seriously battered, characterized by teachers truancy. This is because most of the teachers posted there are usually not resident there. So, often times, these teachers flee their duty posts at the detriments of the innocent pupils and students.
The best way to address this malady therefore, is to recruit people resident in those areas. So far they meet the minimum requirements. By so doing, possibility of truancy on the part of teachers would be drastically reduced and the quality of their delivery would be enhance going forward, through training and retraining. In this regard, the government acted rightly.