ANAMBRA NUT KICKS AGAINST HANDOVER OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS TO CHURCHES
BY ENYIM ENYIM
ONITSHA - Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, Anambra State wing, Wednesday protested the recent handover of about 1,040 public schools to churches by Governor Peter Obi on the ground that he breached Nigerian labour laws on such policy.
Rising from an emergency meeting of the state wing executive council, SWEC, the union in a 12-paragraph communique endorsed by the state Chairman, Ifeanyi Ofodile, Acting Secretary, Nnenna Okonkwo, and State Publicity Secretary, Peter. Okafor, stated that the action of the state government was contrary to the Memorandum of Understanding,MoU, signed in October 2005 by the state government, the NUT and the voluntary agencies.
According to the communique, the MoU was in respect of joint management of some select public schools as a pilot scheme, with a view to assessing the workability and practicability of school handover.
It said: 'The NUT's stand on this issue is that this scheme was not evaluated as to evaluate its success or failure before the present hand over.'
The union equally faulted the state government's action on the ground that the teachers were not consulted on such a sensitive state policy on education, adding that it negated the Nigeria labour laws on the transfer of services of employees from one employer to another without the employees' consent.
Besides, the NUT queried the rationale behind the state government's decision to release N6bn to the churches that took over the schools when it (government) could not provide running cost for its public schools for over five years.
' By handing over these number schools to the churches which lack the human and material resources to cope with such enormous responsibility the government is merely shying away from its primary responsibility of providing free and compulsory education as required by the Universal Basic Education, UBE scheme,' it stated.
Accusing the state government of of being liable for the falling standard of education, the union viewed the hand over of the schools as a direct ignition of retrogressive religious intolerance and discrimination in the education sector.
The NUT also berated the Anambra state House of Assembly for hurriedly passing a bill on the hand over of schools to the churches without consulting the teachers who are a major stakeholder in the education industry.