PRIMARY school teachers in Nigeria were threatened with “firm and decisive action” today after they started strike action over mass sackings.
The Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) called an indefinite strike in protest at the sacking of 21,7880 teachers in Kaduna state after they failed exams set for six-year-old pupils.
Kaduna governor Nasir el-Rufai branded the strikes “illegal” and issued a warning that those who were absent from duty would be sacked. He said that the strikes were an attempt to derail education reforms.
The state government claimed that the sackings were necessary as those dismissed did not meet the grade required for a qualified teacher.
“The government is not available to be blackmailed into knowingly retaining unqualified teachers,” Mr Rufai said.
The job losses affect two-thirds of primary school teachers in the region.
The NUT accused the state government of “shifting the goalposts,” claiming that the benchmark for passing the tests was set at 75 per cent, above the agreed pass mark of 60 per cent.
Having taken the case to the National Industrial Court, NUT assistant general secretary Adamu Ango said the union had no option but to instruct its members to take strike action to defend jobs.
Kaduna state senator Shehu Sani backed the strikers and “saluted the courage” of the teaching union, saying it was its moral and constitutional duty to defend its members.
”Never succumb to threats or blackmail. No genuine progressive will stand against the rights of unions to protest or go on strike.
“You overcame abuse of power in the past. This too shall come to pass. You fought bitterly to restore democracy to Nigeria.
”You must not be intimidated by the beneficiaries of your struggle. Power is transient. Stand firm in the defence of your ideals and principles,” he said.
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