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PTA lists implications of teachers’ strike at unity colleges

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The teachers under the umbrella body of ASCSN in the zones are complaining about disparities in their salaries and allowances. They are asking for the payment of outstanding November and December 2016 salaries and allowances as well as May 2017.

• Begs government to halt proposed June 12 action

Since Monday May 1, 2017 when students of all the Federal Government Colleges (FGC) in the country resumed for the third term academic activities, their counterparts in the north central and the southwest have been idle following the industrial dispute between the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN) and the Federal Government.

Some of the affected colleges are the Federal Government College (FGC), Ilorin, Kwara State; Federal Government Girls College (FGGC), Omu Aran; FGGC, Sagamu; FGC, Ikirun, Osun State; and 10 others.

The teachers under the umbrella body of ASCSN in the zones are complaining about disparities in their salaries and allowances. They are asking for the payment of outstanding November and December 2016 salaries and allowances as well as May 2017. Also backlogs of first 28 days and promotion arrears were part of the issues in contention.

Failure by the government to give in to their demands prompted the strike, which commenced since May 1, 2017. The Guardian learnt that students (boarders) of the affected colleges who resumed for academic activities since Sunday, April 30 had been idle as teachers were prohibited from going to classes by the leadership of the union.

Many parents who had expected early resolution of the crisis were disappointed as the strike lingers. This has forced many to take their children back home. At FGGC Sagamu, parents angrily took their wards home during last Sunday’s visitation saying that idleness is not good for the girls.

Third term academic activities
According to the unity college’s scheme of work, they have about 13 weeks to cover all academic activities for the third term including other extra curricular activities. As matters stand, students at the affected colleges have lost five weeks to the strike, with the national body threatening to shut down others if government fails to grant all their demands before Monday.

Also information on the FGGC, Sagamu’s newsletter showed that pupils will be going for midterm break this month, while the speech day, prize giving, graduation and valedictory ceremony holds in July. The strike has disrupted the academic activities for the term with the children at the receiving end.

The Director/Principal of the college, Mrs. Agnes Owolabi, had also in the bulletin clarified that “only those who score 50 per cent and above in English Language, Mathematics and other relevant subjects will gain promotion to the next class. Parents and guardians are therefore enjoined to counsel their children and wards to work hard towards making up their deficient areas in the new term since an average of the three terms would be considered for promotion purposes.”

But some of the parents who spoke with The Guardian on the issue wondered how the college would work out students’ results this session. They also expressed fears if the weeks lost to the strike could ever be made up.With the national body of the association threatening to shutdown all the colleges by Monday, the parents appealed to the government to swiftly move into action and resolve the crisis.

Chairman, Parents Teachers Association (PTA) of the college, Deacon James Oyesola said, “The future of these children is our major concern. The strike has indeed put their academics in jeopardy. We met severally with the union but the meeting ended in deadlock. It is over one month and the students have not received any lesson for the term. Indeed the strike has affected them a great deal, particularly those in SS2. It has also affected their moral and social psyche.

“It is very disheartening to note that students of about 14 unity colleges in the country including FGGC Sagamu are at home while their contemporaries in private and other government secondary schools have been undergoing intense learning and other school activities for close to a month. I don’t why there should be disparity in the payment of salaries.

Urging government to prioritise teachers’ welfare in their agenda so as to lift the sector, he said, “Why are teachers not given the right values and respect in this country? If the government truly wants a world-class education system, surely it should empower teachers rather than undermine them. Aside the bad reputation the strikes conferred on the education system; delayed and extension of duration of students in school and unjust compression of the syllabus and academic calendar will deprive students of adequate academic preparation and eventually have undesirable effects on the students achievement of educational objectives as laid down in the prescribed curriculum.

Another parent and secretary of the association, Mr. Amade Victor Etubi, said, “The PTA have about 72 staff, and 40 of them are teaching staff. The number will not be enough to cater for academic programmes of the students and notwithstanding the union’s view was that if schools continue with academic activities, the ministry will not feel the impact of what is on ground.

Call for remedial programme
Other parents that spoke on the matter were of the view that government should create remedial programme to make up for the weeks the students lost or forfeit payment of next terms fees.

According to Mrs. Judith Kennedy, “every class has scheme of work for week one, two and so on. Lesson notes are planned and delivered to learners accordingly. It’s over five weeks now and students in the affected colleges have not received even lesson one, while their colleagues in other schools have recorded a lot of progress.
Meanwhile, the spokesperson of the Federal Ministry of Education, Mrs. Priscilla Ihuoma, has appealed to teachers to be patient with government as the issue will soon be resolved.

According to her, “May salaries have been paid, the few schools that were missed out are being handled and in the next few days will be paid. Salaries are paid by the Accountant General of the Federation, we have written and been following up on the issue and we are almost at the end of the tunnel.”


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