Many states are currently battling with a shortage of teachers as those who retired have not been replaced through regular recruitment.
Findings on Sunday in states such as Ogun, Osun, Ondo, Rivers, Kwara, Gombe, and Katsina revealed that the worst affected were schools in rural areas.
The National President of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, Mr Titus Amba, who expressed concern about the shortage, said many governors shunned the advice of the union which pleaded that retired teachers should be replaced through recruitment.
In an interview, Amba, said: “Recruitment of teachers lies in the hands of the state governments. A good number of teachers have left the service and till now, there is no plan to replace them. This was the reason NUT fought for the elongation of the service so that it would cushion the effect of sudden retirement.
“We have been pleading with the state governments that there is a need to continually recruit teachers. We have directed our state councils to write their state governments to see how they can recruit teachers.’’
As the NUT lamented a shortage of teachers, the Chairman of the union in Ogun State, Abiodun Akinola, in an interview, it was stated that both public primary and secondary schools in the state were facing an acute shortage of teachers.
Akinola said between 2022 and 2023, no fewer than 1,500 teachers retired without replacement.
He said the last time the state government recruited teachers was between 2008 and 2009.
Akinola said: “There are not enough in all fields in both primary and secondary. I cannot tell you the specific number, but we have a shortage of teachers in schools throughout Ogun State.
“There is no subject that is not affected because the subject teachers retire yearly.
There is no area where we don’t need teachers, even in primary schools where a teacher is to all subjects. This year alone, no fewer than 800 teachers will be retiring. Last year, over 700 retired.’’
Attempts to get the reaction of the state government failed as the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Waidi Adesina, had not responded to the message sent to him as of the time of filing this report.
In Delta State, it was gathered that former Governor Government Ifeanyi Okowa employed some teachers before leaving office, teachers in rural areas were not enough.
It was learnt that many of those who were posted to rural areas found their way back to urban areas.
Efforts to speak to the Permanent Secretary for Basic and Secondary Education, Augustine Oghoro, failed as their numbers could not be reached as of the time of this report.
In Osun State, some teachers working in public schools in the state who spoke on the condition of anonymity told one of our correspondents that schools in rural and semi-urban centres were the worst hit by inadequate teachers.
A teacher in a public school in Osogbo said many schools unqualified teachers employed by Parent-Teacher-Association had been teaching in many public schools.
He said: “There are not enough teachers in rural and semi-urban areas. In the urban areas, it is relatively better. For instance, some schools in Osogbo have almost enough teachers. Schools like Ataoja School of Science, Baptist Girls School, and Fakunle Comprehensive High School, all have almost enough hands.
“But Islaudeen Grammar School, also in Osogbo, does not have enough teachers. If you recall during the administration of ex-governor Aregbesola, there was a problem for the Parent- Teacher-Associations and they ceased to function because the governor stopped payment of fees in public schools.”
On how schools have been coping with the situation, the teacher said: “I know of a school in Otan Ayegbaju, where the teacher handling Mathematics studied Accountancy. He was good at Mathematics during his secondary school days, and because there was no teacher for the subject, he took up the challenge.”
Another teacher, who spoke on the situation also cited a school in Ikirun, where “a teacher that studied Business Administration, is being asked to take Islamic Religious Studies.
“What is happening nowadays is that whoever has an idea of a subject will be in charge of subjects where there are no teachers now, not necessarily those who studied the subjects.”
Contacted, the state NUT Chairman, C Muritala Fatade, said public schools in the state were expressing a drastic shortfall in the number of teachers needed.
“I will implore the state government to please reinstate the 1, 500 sacked teachers that took the normal procedures in getting the job. They should please reinstate anyone that follows the due process in the course of their employment.
“I also want to appeal to the government to employ many more teachers in our schools to boost the standard of education in Osun State. I am well informed that our governor is interested in improving the results of students in our schools. This he will achieve by employing more teachers,” Fatade said.
Despite the recruitment of over 7000 teachers into primary and secondary schools in Kwara State, most schools in the rural areas of the state still lack adequate teachers.
The state Teaching Service Commission recruited 4,701 teachers into Secondary schools in the state in 2021 while Kwara State Universal Basic Education Board also employed over 2000 teachers into the basic schools in the state in 2022.
It was gathered that many teachers rejected rural posting, while some were transferred to urban areas after the recruitment.
The Chairman of the state NUT, Bashir Oyewo while commending the state Governor, Mallam Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, for recruiting more teachers, appealed to the government to give teachers posted to rural areas some allowances that would make them stay there.
Katsina State is also battling a shortage of teachers, but last month it placed advertisements to fill vacant positions in secondary schools.
The problem of a shortage of teachers is also prevalent in both primary and secondary schools in Ondo State.
Last year, the state government recruited about 1,200 primary school teachers who were deployed in the different schools in the state but it was gathered that the schools needed more than the number of teachers recruited.
A principal in one of the secondary schools in the state, on condition of anonymity, told one of our correspondents that the state needed many teachers to fill the vacancies in the schools.
She said: “We are facing the challenge of teachers’ shortage because teachers are retiring. Some teachers are leaving the system, some even die and there are no replacements for them because the government is not recruiting.”.”
Ogun teachers endorse Abiodun for second term
Contacted, the state NUT Chairman, Victor Amoko, confirmed that the state needed more teachers
Amoko, who commended the state government for recruiting 1,200 teachers into the primary schools, said previous administrations neglected teachers recruitment, despite the retirement of old teachers.
He noted that before the present government came, the state needed over 8,000 teachers in primary schools.
He said: “We have an acute shortage of teachers, not only in Ondo State but all over the country. Before this present administration, the previous administrations didn’t recruit teachers despite the fact the teachers were retiring every month. But this government recruited a total of 1200 teachers last year. Governor Akeredolu even promised to recruit more.
“But we still have a shortage of teachers and we need to relieve the burden on those who are working. It is a situation where one teacher is doing the work of four people.”
Efforts to speak with the state Commissioner for Education, Mr Femi Agagu, on the issue were unsuccessful as he did not pick up his call nor reply to the text message sent to him as of the time of filing this report.
In Gombe State, the Teaching Service Commission recruited about 1,000 teachers, out of 5000 that applied in 2022.
However, it was gathered that secondary schools in the state were still facing the problem of inadequate teachers.
Many of those who were employed lamented that they had not been paid.
A teacher at Filiya Junior Secondary, Shongom disclosed that the school with about a 1,000 population could boast of four permanent teachers, adding that the rest are volunteers.
He said: “The principal takes care of the volunteers because there are more but those of us on the government payroll are far fewer, imagine four to about 1,000 students.”
Contacted on the telephone, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Education Muhammad Galadima, disclosed that the newly employed teachers would be paid soon.
“You know it’s not a one-day job. We have compiled their names and sent them to the Head of Service to get pay slip numbers,” Galadima said.
Asked about a shortage of teachers despite the recent recruitment, he said: “These days it is not easy to talk on the phone without seeing the person.”
The Chairman of the Lagos State NUT, Nig Mr Akintoye Hassan, mentioned that the Sanwo-Olu government recruited over 1,000 primary school teachers in 2021.
He added that secondary school teachers’ recruitment was ongoing.
Hassan, however, said: “We cannot say we have had enough teachers. We have not got there but the government is consistently recruiting. It is not yet a crisis, it is just a challenge.”
“We can’t say we lack basic subject teachers because the government always ensures we have them more. We have challenges with Language teachers like Yoruba and French. The government is not paying attention to language teachers’ recruitment.”
The Deputy Director of Public Affairs, Lagos State Teaching Service Commission, Mr Kayode Sutton, explained that the state Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, granted TESCOM approval to always conduct “exit replacement” in the secondary schools to replace higher-level teachers who got retired with lower-level teachers. He added that between 2019 and 2023, TESCOM had recruited over 8,000 teachers.
Speaking on the lack of language teachers raised by Hassan, Sutton stressed that the union was expected to write to the state government that there was a need for language teachers, saying the government would not operate on a verbal request.
On his part, the All Nigeria Confederation of Principals of Secondary Schools, Mr Musa Ibrahim, lamented that teacher recruitment had become a political issue in the country. He revealed that it was so disheartening that the employment of teachers who were recruited by the immediate past governors was reversed by the new governors.
Also, the national General Secretary of the NUT, Dr.Mike Ene, noted that public primary and secondary schools in the country most especially those in the rural areas were facing a shortage of teachers due to the failure of the government to recruit new teachers to fill out existing vacancies.
Speaking to one of our correspondents on the shortage of manpower in the sector among other matters, Ene noted that one of the reasons behind the push for a bill to extend the retirement age of teachers was the failure of some state governors to recruit new teachers to meet up for the shortage gap in some schools.
“The Act of teachers’ Retirement that moved teachers’ retirement age from 60 to 65 years was pursued by the NUT. We moved this when discovered that some states have failed to employ new teachers. Secondly, we realized that the good ones were retiring and there were no older hands to mentor the younger ones and that was why we insisted and pursued that President Buhari signed that act and it became an act of 2022 so it’s a national act.
“It’s a universal act that makes it mandatory that primary and secondary school teachers retire at 65 years. In some states, the governments have not employed teachers for over ten years. Some of them never employed even one teacher. You go to a school and you see one or two teachers in primary school and the students are in the hundreds and if you go to our rural areas it is just the worst and that’s why we pursued this act.
“Right now, it is painful and that is why we say that governments at all levels are playing politics with education. When you are building a house, it has to be built on a proper foundation. If you build your house on the sand when the serious wind comes, that house will be swept up. If you don’t build the primary and secondary levels properly which are the basic rudiments of education, you will get students that we will pass to university, and then by the time they graduate, we say we have graduates who can’t write one page and that is because of the lack of good primary and secondary education.
“In some schools, we have teachers who are teaching all subjects. Someone who reads English will be compelled to teach science subjects because of a shortage of teachers.
“In primary schools, you will see 100 in a particular class with only one teacher. What do you think they will be doing? The teacher will teach Maths and English and then they will start dancing and playing. One teacher teaching 100 or 120? Is it a marketplace or a school?
“These teachers are committed and won’t want to leave the students untouched
They do their best and at the end of the day when their best is not good enough it’s the society that suffers for it.
“I want to advise these new governors whether they are in the first or second tenure and also the president, we can’t keep playing politics with education. There must be increased budgetary allocation and serious employment of teachers who are very well qualified.
“You find out again that even when we talk of qualified people, you hear that some of these governors don’t pay teachers. We had states that owed teachers for months. Some of them(former governors) ran away but they paid for it dearly because all those that owed teachers wanted to go to the senate and they met the God of teachers.
“Second, we must declare the education sector a persona non grata where you have a total disaster where we will have to start afresh. It is dead. See the tertiary sector where a strike has taken over. Anytime there is a strike, you have taken back the country for years and that’s what people don’t know.
“Government is quick at signing agreements; however, they must take education very seriously. We can take a cue from other countries. We see how they have taken their education very seriously. Go to countries like Singapore, France, and Sri Lanka, teachers are taken seriously.”