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Socialist Democracy Nov - Dec 2005



By Dagga Tolar NUT Vice Chairman,

Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Council

Primary school Teachers in Lagos state commenced a 3-day out-of-teaching strike in the schools to protest the non-implementation of their 2003 promotion exercise, non-payment of their 2004 and 2005 leave allowance, and the 12.5% salary increase for primary school teachers. Monday 21st November, 2005 saw teachers storming the Local Education Districts in all the 20 local councils, closing down the offices, and placing them under lock and key. In Ajeromi Ifelodun the Education Secretary P.B. Akpata had to address the teachers declaring his support for their action.

The Campaign for Democratic Workers' Right in a statement signed by its chairman, Rufus Olusesan, expresses support for the action of teachers, and calls on the Lagos state government to immediately acquiesce to the demands of the NUT. According to this statement the excuse of non-receipt of the Local Government allocation is no longer tenable, and it calls for "an immediate end to the discrimination against Primary School Teachers" given the fact that all other categories of Public Servants have since been paid these same allowances.

NUT must combine the entirety of its strength, teachers in public secondary schools must also be mobilised to be part of this action. The unity and solidarity of teachers must not be taken for granted since both primary and secondary teachers belong to the same union. The present action should be seen as the beginning of a series of actions that must be embarked upon to resist the attack on public education, with its increasing under-funding and collapsing infrastructures and the non availability of the necessary teaching facilities etc. While the AD government of Ahmed Bola Tinubu, claims to be running a free education policy, public education has never had it so bad. In the early days of the regime, 46 public schools were handed over to their private owners, compounding the overcrowded nature of the remaining public schools, most secondary school, are forced to combine both the Art and Commercial classes together, numbering, in some schools, up to 164 in a single classroom, Science education is even worse hit. Schools have had to convert laboratories into classrooms not necessarily occupied by science students.

Primary Education, which is the bedrock of all future education does not fare better. With collapsing roofs, windows fallen off, any rainfall is an automatic end of class. All this has meant that parents have had to take their children to private schools, where the fees are extremely high, with no specified standard. Most of the teachers in these private schools are young school leavers with no training and interest whatsoever in the teaching profession. This allows the proprietors to maximize profit, which has meant a serious fall in the standard of education, as most parents from working class background return their kids to public secondary schools. Public education needs to be massively funded. Lagos and indeed, the whole Nigeria possess the means and resources to run a free and qualitative education from the nurseries up to university level.

For this to be attainable however, both the AD government of Tinubu and the PDP federal government of Obasanjo must break with neo-liberalism. But these governments are incapable of doing this . This means that ultimately, teachers must be in the forefront of the struggle to transform society. They must canvass and support the emergence of an independent Working People Party that will struggle to take over power from the ruling elite and replace it with a workers and poor farmers government, which would then nationalise the commanding sectors of the economy placed under workers democratic management and control. This is what would free up the necessary resources to adequately fund education and free parents, teachers and students from the present nightmare and the bastardization of the laudably concept of "free education" in Lagos state.


**As the time of going to press, the action has been suspended by the NUT, on the strength of a meeting with the governor, who we are told, has promised to pay the said allowances. NUT should demand for formal agreement and should not again go back to sleep. If it is committed to struggle to meet the need and aspiration of teachers, it must break away from its collaborative hold and romance with government.



Socialist Democracy Nov - Dec 2005