President Muhammadu Buhari is backing Kaduna State Governor Nasir el-Rufai’s plan to sack 21,780 teachers.
The teachers failed the “competency” test conducted by the state government. But the Nigeri Union of Teacher (NUT) insists that they should not be fired because “examination is not the best test of abilty”.
Speaking during a special retreat of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on the challenges of education, with the theme: “Education in Nigeria: Challenges and Prospects”, the President decried a situation where teachers were not different from their students.
He lamented the bad condition of the sector, with 13.2 million children out of school.
The President said: “To digress a little bit so that you know that I meant what I read.
“Having been an orphan, I still feel that whatever I did in life so far was built by boarding school. For nine years, I was in boarding school, three in primary and six in secondary school.
“In those days, teachers treat their students or children like their own children. If you did well they will tell you, you did well, if you didn’t do well they never spared the rod.
“When I finished my secondary school, I didn’t work for a day; I refused to work for a day. I left home. I refused to work in the local government, and then I joined the army. And the army of that time we went through all we went through up-to the civil war.
“And then I listened to one of the Nigerians I respect; he said after his training here in Nigeria and the United States, he went to his alma matta, his primary school to see what he could contribute. I won’t mention his name but when he went, he couldn’t differentiate between the students, the children and the teachers.
“And what El-Rufai is trying to do now is exactly what that man told me about 10 years ago. It is a very very serious situation, when teachers cannot pass their exams that they are supposed to teach the children to pass.
“It is a very tragic situation we are in and this our gathering together to me is one of the most important in this administration,” Buhari said.