In Borno State, a large vacancy exists in the teaching field following the Boko Haram crisis which ravaged the North-east Region and many adjoining states. The government tried to address the problem by employing hundreds of teachers to fill up the large number of teaching job vacancies in the state.
Already, stakeholders in the Boko Haram crisis centre spot have unanimously maintained that education is one of the three important sectors of societal development most ravaged by the insurgency in Borno State, which bears its major brunt in all sectors, and neighbouring Yobe and Adamawa states.
At the height of the crisis, the insurgents swarmed across the state like a locust plague, invading majority of the local government areas, sacking communities, crumbling and razing down private and public structures, including schools, and destroying all facilities used to impart western education, according to their underpinning philosophy and belief that ‘boko is haram’ (western education is unlawful).
Among the over 20,000 people the insurgents’ killed in the entire North-east up to 2015, were about 600 teachers of all levels of education – but most of them primary and secondary schools teachers in Borno State alone.
The killing of these teachers created an acute dearth of teachers the state still struggles to convalesce from, and was compounded by the heightening need to herd back to school the thousands of the school-going children abruptly thrown out by the crisis, in addition to the about 60,000 orphaned children.
This worsened the situation of a state that has persistently suffered the most stunted growth in education among other states of the federation,
To resuscitate education from the rubbles of insurgency, the state government now concentrates firm focus on education, among other vital sectors of development.
Still unsatisfied with the level of security achieved in the liberated communities having secondary schools and to guarantee the total reconstruction or renovation of the parts of the schools destroyed by the insurgents, the government first embarked on building over 20 mega schools in Maiduguri and other principal towns of the state, to accommodate not only the about 60,000 orphaned children but even the swarming population of pupils the insurgency dislodged and threw out of school.
The state government recently embarked on the recruitment of 1,000 teachers, majority of them for senior secondary schools, and 1,000 volunteer teachers to fill in any gap unfilled by the existing population of teachers.
Key stakeholders comment variously on this teachers recruitment exercise from the perspective of the imperatives underlying it in the government’s broad plan to resuscitate education.
Speaking Alhaji Bulama Abiso, chairman of Borno State branch of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) said: “The ongoing recruitment of 1,000 teachers by the government is one of the crucial decisions reached at our meeting with state government officials, and it was necessitated by the ugly fact there has not been teacher employment in four years during which so many teachers were killed by Boko Haram insurgents. However, majority of them are for the senior secondary schools, and they will be teaching the sciences.”
He said, “After the employment, we will then pounce on the government with the demand for equipping the schools with the required facilities, especially science laboratories.”
Majority of the teachers will be posted to the senior schools in Maiduguri Metropolis, where the largest population of SSS (Senior Secondary Schools) students all over the state have been transferred to from their various localities to learn in a more secure environment.
“However, I can tell you that majority of the Senior Secondary schools in the metropolis have been sufficiently renovated and equipped with the required facilities to meet the needs of the teeming population of students that massively flowed from other Local Government Areas (LGAs) due to the persisting insecurity,” the NUT chairman also said.
Presently, there are about 26 senior secondary schools and about 150 primary and junior secondary schools in Maiduguri metropolis.
But, because majority of the senior secondary schools in the state were sited at the outskirts of communities, in the situation of prevailing insecurity, government cannot risk renovating them and transferring students back there, he said.
“This is why majority of the Senior Secondary Schools students from other LGAs were transferred to the metropolis with one senior schools in the metropolis accommodating the students of four to six senior schools of other LGAs. It, therefore, naturally follows that these schools in the metropolis are overcrowded and their facilities, like science labs, are overstretched,” Alhaji Bulama said.
“Let me, therefore, stress it to you that after the recruitment of teachers, we will pursue the requirement of equipping the schools with sufficient facilities,” he concluded.
Alhaji Musa Inuwa Kubo, the state Commissioner of Education said “the dearth of teachers due to insurgency has dragged on for too long, this is why we are recruiting the 1,000 teachers; and the recruitment is all-encompassing, which means once you are employed as a teacher, you can be posted or transferred at any time to any school, whether mega or any other.”
He said owing to the continuing apprehension in many areas due to the persisting insecurity, “the end of which we still don’t know, we had to transfer all the students to Maiduguri, this is why the schools in the metropolis are overcrowded and their facilities overstretched,” he said.
He said it is easy to find a school in the metropolis with capacity of 2,000 students, but accommodating 5,000 students. But government prefers giving however little the quality of education to the population of students in the prevailing situation than giving them nothing at all, he added.
“Insisting on quality in a situation where thousands of the students chased out of their schools and communities in most towns certainly imply dereliction of a cardinal responsibility that must be discharged by government at whatever level, in whatever circumstances,” he said.
According to him, with the persisting insecurity, government cannot embark on the renovation or total reconstruction of schools in most parts of the state.
He said apart from the 1,000 teachers on regular employment, interviews are being done for a batch of 1,000 voluntary teachers.
“These are teachers retired but not tired; teachers who are still energetic and willing to teach.” the commissioner announced.