There is a sense of apprehension among parents whose children attend public schools in Kaduna State, following a recent government’s directive to all public schools to migrate to a four working days plan, Daily Trust reports.
Some parents and teachers who spoke on the matter said they are yet to fathom the reason behind the new policy which now mandates public schools to open between Monday and Thursday as many claim it will negatively affect the performance of the students across the state.
This is coming barely six weeks after the Kaduna State Government directed state civil servants to observe a four-day working week excluding Friday.
A statement issued by Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s Special Adviser on Media and Communication, Muyiwa Adekeye, had stated that the new measure was designed to boost productivity, improve work-life balance and enable workers to have more time for their families, for rest and agricultural activities.
The government had also stated that the policy would be extended to other sectors in the state. It was therefore no surprise when on January 9 the Commissioner for Education, Halima Lawal, directed all public schools to migrate to the 4-day working week.
She also stressed that the 2021/2022 academic calendar would be adjusted to ensure coverage of the curriculum for the academic session.
This directive was however received with shock across the state particularly from parents and teachers who explained that the new policy would affect the performance of the pupils.
Aliyu Suleiman, whose children attend LEA Rigasa, wondered how pupils in public schools that had been struggling to catch up with their peers in private schools across the country would cope.
Another parent, Suwidi Zakari, who is a mechanic at new Panteka said, “Just one day out of school can affect a child who attends a public school. We hope the government will have a rethink except if they don’t care about our children.”
Meanwhile, some teachers who spoke with our correspondent said all they wanted from the government was to improve their welfare and not to give them a day off.
A teacher who asked to remain anonymous said instead of a free day, the government should ensure teachers get their salaries regularly or better still, pay them overtime to work on Fridays.
A private school teacher who simply identified himself as Yomi opined that the policy was not made in the interest of the students. He said students would be at the receiving end because the curriculum is structured in the sense that every learning activity is based on a timeline.
He added that if the timeline is reduced, it means they will put the learners under pressure in order to achieve a five-day target in four days.
Yomi stated that private schools are doing well because they have adequate time, citing instances that pupils go to school between 8 am and 2pm in private schools while in government school, a learner goes to school between 8am and 12noon.
“This means they don’t have same time to learn compared to private school students. So personally, I don’t think this decision was taken with the best consultations,” he said.
He advised the government to sit with stakeholders in the education sector to discuss the issue.
We were not consulted – PTA
In what can be described as a kick against the new policy, the Parents’ Teachers Association (PTA) in Kaduna State has said it was not consulted before the directive was made as it only heard the announcement in the media.
The National President of the PTA who is also the Chairman of PTA, Kaduna chapter, Haruna Danjuma, said no parent was consulted before the decision was reached, stressing that the new policy would have negative impacts on the future of their children.
He said association never expected the state government to include those in the education sector after civil servants were directed to commence the four-days’ working hours.
“Now that it has affected teachers, what then will happen to our children? How will they meet up with their syllabus in a term? As parents, we are worried over this including those in the private schools and we are not happy about it,” he said.
He added that it was unfortunate that the same state government which experienced a 2020 lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as teachers’ strikes which created a gap in the educational sector could now implement another policy that could further push the state behind educationally.
“As parents, we have a responsibility to keep our children in school so as not to mingle with other out-of-school-children in the society but the government is pushing the children back to the streets, particularly on Fridays.”
We ‘ll soon take a stand- NUT
The Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) has said it will meet soon to take a stand on the matter. Speaking with Daily Trust Saturday, the NUT Principal Assistant Secretary, Christopher David Ladan, said, “Our leaders will meet to discuss the issue and take a stand soon but for me as a professional teacher, the four-day working week is inadequate looking at the workload for teachers in the rural communities.”
According to him, teachers have been managing to cope with the syllabus, adding that a reduction will cause additional stress for teachers who must meet their deadlines.
He urged the government to have a rethink by critically looking at the disadvantages the new policy would have on the children.
“This will have a long-term effect on the students at the grassroots and worst on teachers who usually go through a lot of stress to meet up with their syllabus and lesson notes,” he said.
Ladan called on professionals in the education sector to meet with other stakeholders to come up with reasons on why the government should drop the ideas so as to save the future of the children.
It has drastic consequence on education system –Expert
An educationist and former Education Secretary in Kaduna South Local Government Area, Sunusi Surajo, said it was unlikely that any teacher would be able to complete their syllabus using the four-days’ a week working policy.
“When you cut a day off the system, you must come out and tell teachers the rationale behind that because it will affect the system. Schools are in the second term and the first term witnessed challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic in Kaduna where a complete term was cancelled. Now, you are cutting a whole day off; how can pupils recover days missed during corona?”
“There is no way you will observe this system in Kaduna State alone while other states follow the national curriculum of education which has stated that school days are from Monday to Friday not Monday to Thursday, so Kaduna cannot operate in isolation,” he said.
Efforts by our correspondent to reach out to the chairman of the committee that worked on the new policy and the state Head of Service, Bariatu Yusuf Mohammed, were unsuccessful as she neither answered her calls nor replied to a text message sent to her phone.