Competency test: 6,000 Kaduna primary school teachers panic over fresh sack

The Kaduna State Universal Basic Education Board (KADSUBEB) has started issuing dismissal letters to primary school teachers who did not sit for the competency test conducted for them in December 2021, Dateline Nigeria has learnt.

The board had on May 26, 2022, commenced the issuance of query letters to the teachers accusing them of “disobedience to lawful instruction” and “refusal to take the competency test”

Sources within the state chapter of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) alleged that “up to 6,000” will be affected in the sack exercise. But Dateline Nigeria has seen at least four dismissal letters issued some of the primary school teachers

The dismissal letter reads, “Following your deliberate disobedience to lawful instructions by the Kaduna State Government and refusal to take the Competency test for teachers, which is a serious misconduct and in contravention of the Public Service Rule 04401 (i), you are dismissed from the Kaduna State Public Service with effect from 1st June. 2022.

“You are to handover any Government property in your possession to the Head Teacher in the school where you teach or the acting Education Secretary, as the case may be.

“The Board wishes you success in your future endeavours.”

Genesis of the problem

In October 2017, the Kaduna State Government sacked 21,780 primary school teachers saying they failed the competency test conducted for them in June of the same year. The state NUT protested the action of the state government with the support of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and other unions in November 2017.

In December 2017, the National Industrial Court in Kaduna halted the sack of the primary school teachers based on a motion of interlocutory injunction filed by the teachers asking the court to restrain the government from dismissing or disengaging any teacher in the state on the basis of the test, pending the determination of their suit.

Justice Lawal Mani (now late) granted the application. The case was adjourned to February 6th, 2018. But the judge died in March 2018, leading to the stalling of the case.

Meanwhile, the government in March 2018 announced that it had recruited 25,000 qualified teachers in place of the 22,000 it sacked. It also, in collaboration with Teacher Development Programme (TDP) conducted an induction and orientation programme for the new teachers “to familiarize them with the national teaching curriculum”.

‘Why we shunned competency test’

A member of the NUT in Kaduna State told Dateline Nigeria that their refusal to sit for the competency test in 2021 was not a show of disobedience as the government said.

“When the government started issuing queries, our members accused us of misleading them, saying they only obeyed our directive that no teacher should sit for the competency test, and that now we have abandoned them even though some of our executive members were affected.

“But we took our decision based on the fact that there is a pending case at the industrial court over the sacking of the 22,000 teachers. The case stalled with the death of the presiding judge.

“Again, when we were employed by the government, we were subjected to examinations and all sorts of tests. If we were not competent, how did we pass our exams and secure employment with the board? Or didn’t they do the right thing while employing teachers?

“It may also interest you to know that since we were employed in 2018, save for induction, we did not undergo any training or even a refresher course. We have also been made to use our money to do things that should be the responsibilities of the government such as buying chalks, markers, etc.

“The government should just come clean and admit that it wants to sack workers. We learnt that they want to sack 6000 teachers and thousands of others from other ministries. And this is in spite of our sacrifices. Even the minimum wage we were supposed to enjoy, they stopped shortly after they started it,” he said.

‘Teachers divided over test’

Dateline Nigeria learnt that some teachers shunned the NUT and sat for the competency test.

One of the teachers in Kaduna North Local Government said about 45 of them are affected in the LG.

“Some of them were scared of losing their jobs, while others were forced to take the test because their husbands or guardians are government workers.

“In the case of a particular local government, the teachers were told that if they take the test, their backlog of salaries will be paid. But they now know better. Sadly, that was how they broke our ranks.”

Attempts to speak to officials of the Kaduna State Universal Basic Education Board were unsuccessful.

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