Teachers under the aegis of the Oyo State wing of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, yesterday protested local government autonomy, expressing displeasure over the planned return of pay to local government.
In their hundreds, they called on Oyo State government not to cede their salary to councils, insisting that payment of primary school teachers and the funding and management of primary schools should not be under the control of local government.
Led by the Chairmen of the NUT and Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) , Comrade Niyi Akano and Comrade Waheed Olojede respectively, the rally took off at the Agodi State Secretariat of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC).
Some of the inscriptions on the placards carried by the teachers read: “Nigerian Union of Teachers, Oyo State Wing says no to local government autonomy. Basic education is a right of every child”, “Local government councils do not have the capacity to pay primary school teachers salaries”, “Basic education is a right and must be protected by all”, “Foundation of education in Nigeria under threat again”
Others read: “Pay teachers regularly for a sustainable primary education”, “Our children’s future must be secured”, “Funding of primary education should be the responsibility of the state and federal government”
Delivering their protest letter to Governor Abiola Ajimobi, who was represented by his deputy, Chief Moses Adeyemo, Akano said the rally was not a protest against salaries arrears but a fight for the soul of primary education in the state and the country.
He said experience had shown that the local government tier lacked the capacity to run and fund primary education effectively, particularly because that is the bedrock of education.
Olojede maintained that allowing the local governments to take charge of primary school education is a good way of sending the sector back to the woods.
He recounted that the period between 1990-1994 when local governments enjoyed full autonomy was the worst for the sector as many teachers were at the mercy of council bosses before getting their salaries and entitlements.
The union leader said should the Federal Government insist on granting autonomy to the local government, issues such as managing, funding and equipping primary schools should be transferred to the state governments.
He further suggested that payment of primary school teachers’ salaries and entitlements should be left with State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB).