Shortage of teachers harms students, teachers and the public education system as a whole. Lack of sufficient, qualified teachers and staff instability threaten students’ ability to learn and reduce teachers‘ effectiveness, and high teacher turnover consumes economic resources that could be better deployed elsewhere.
All the above, presently described the state of education in Kogi State. The state education is in comatose. One of the major reasons being the acute shortage of teachers that has bedeviled the state education for many years.
For example, the staff strength of the basic education teachers in Kogi state as at December 2015 was 23,466 whichcomprises of teaching and non-teaching staff, according to a statement from state chapter of Basic Education Staff Association of Nigeria, BESAN.
The staff strength has however reduced to only 16,419 by 2020 due to death, retirement and many of the screening exercises by governments that placed many teachers on “uncleared list.”
This situation is detrimental to effective functioning of primary education subsector. Most of the public primary schools in the rural areas are malfunctioning due to acute shortage of teachers, while those in the urban towns are over-stretched due to large population of learners.
The situation of their secondary schools counterpart are not different.
According to the State Chairman, Academic Staff Unions of Secondary School, ASUSS, Mr. Ranti Ojo, who said the staff strength of teachers in the secondary schools has depleted from 9000 in 2011 to a little above 3000 in 2021.
Ranti who described the situation as a ‘serious problem’ in the education sector of the state, said at present, teachers are made to teach subjects that they are not meant to.
“The situation has degenerated to a point that in some schools, a teacher will be taking English, Geography and Economic. Also, a teacher who studied engineering will be compelled to take Physics, Maths and Chemistry.”
The last teacher’s recruitment in the state was in 2004 when 1,500 teachers were recruited into the secondary school. But an average of 100 teachers retired annually. A situation that means for retirement alone, the state has lost 1,7000 teachers within seventeen years, and are yet to be replaced.
SCRENING EXERCISESBetween 2009 and 2018, three different screening exercises compounded the woes of teachers in the state. In 2009, many teachers were retrenched by the Sally Tibot screening exercise of governor Ibrahim Idris, same for the Ogunmola 2014 exercise of governor Idris Wada, and the 2018 screening exercise of Governor Yahaha Bello.
The effect being that many teachers were removed from employment for one reasons or another. Coupled with teachers who transfered their services to core ministries in the state, those who found better jobs at federal parastatals, and those who died. But one thing remained the same – failure of successive government to recruit.
According to Ranti, Schools in the rural area are more affected by the shortage of teachers. Ranti said, most schools in the rural areas could only boost of a Principal and a teachers, and at best, a Principal and 10 teachers.
The present government of Yahaya Bello gave approval for 500 teachers to be recruited in 2019. But that was before his reelection. The government has afterward placed embargo on teachers recruitment. A situation that is similar to the approval giving by former governor Idris Wada for 3,500 Science teachers which was put on hold when he lost his reelection bid in 2015.
But a solution has been proffered by most schools to fill in the shortage gap. Many public schools has turned to individuals, or their Parent Teachers Association, PTA for help. These individuals or PTA had in turn, employed teachers as either part time, or temporary employer; with the salary responsibilities handled by the individual or PTA; just to fill in the gap of the shortage of teachers.
This development has become the only hope public schools in the state has, as governments turnned deaf hear to the needs to recruits.
It was a thing of joy in Community Secondary School, Kakun, in Kabba/Bunu council area of the state last months when the PTA employed three teachers to take Economic, Geography and one other subjects. The school took to the community social media handle, Owes Forum on Facebook to ‘celebrate’.
For Isanlu Victory College, Ilafin in Yagba East council area of the state, their survival had been on such recruitments which has now been termed “PTA Teachers”.
Isanlu Victory College, for many years operated with a Principal and two teachers for 36 subjects. But with the help of two illustrious son of the community, who employed five PTA teachers for the student in 2018, to bridge the gap.
Before the development, school age children in the community had instead of coming to school, taking to lumbering and mining job, since there was no available teachers for learning. But this has changed, as many students has since returned to school.
The employment of “PTA Teachers” has become visible across the 21 council area of the state. According to Mr. Ranti, virtually all secondary schools in the rural area operates with “PTA Teachers.”DIFFICULTY
This lofty idea is already facing challenges due to the sustainability of those PTA teachers. Most of whom are not paid beyond a year by either the individual or PTA who recruited them. Coupled with the fact that their poor remuneration may not make them to put in their best.
For example, while the PTA of Community Secondary School, Kakun pays their Part- time teachers N20,000 monthly; the Isanlu counterpart only received N10,000. Already, there is an outstanding of two months; their last pay was in November 2020. The N20,000 is the highest any of the PTA teachers are receiving across the three Senatorial axes.
With an average teachers of 18 – 20 required for a secondary school, Kogi State is presently sitting on a time bomb. The prestige of being regarded amongst the education- privileged states may just be a mirage. Little wonder the continuous increase in the numbers of ‘Miracle Centre Shools’ for SSCE students.
Mr. Ranti has continued to appealed to the state government to recruit. He also urged communities to embrace the “PTA Teachers” format, which he said has helped to bridged the gap of acute teachers shortage.
He also urged that those “PTA Teachers” should be giving priority whenever recruitment is opened. He however said unless the “PTA Teachers” are sustained pending the proper recruitment from state government, the education sectors in the state faces imminent collapse.
There are 1991 primary schools in Kogi State, while their are 1011 secondary schools comprising of both the Junior and Senior secondary schools in the state.End.