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On Kaduna’s 4-day working week

It is no longer news that the Kaduna State government has migrated to four working days. With the new policy, civil servants are expected to…

It is no longer news that the Kaduna State government has migrated to four working days. With the new policy, civil servants are expected to work from Monday to Thursday. According to the state governor, the new measure was designed to boost productivity, improve work-life balance and enable workers to have more time for their families, rest and engage in agricultural activities. 

I think these are good reasons enough to warrant the adoption of the policy. Besides, in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is reported that, some advanced countries have adopted the four-day working week policy and it has worked perfectly well for them.

There is nothing wrong with  countries with strong institutions and effective workforce to migrate to such a new policy. Those countries have adequately trained and experienced manpower. By reducing the working days’ nothing will change.

In the case of Kaduna, which is the first state in the country to adopt it, the policy seems to have come at the wrong time. With the extension of the policy from ministries to the education sector, which means public schools can only open for four days a week, one is forced to disagree entirely with the state government’s action.

The governor must have known that, schools operate using syllabus and curriculum developed by the National Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC). These syllabuses are being used by private schools. If our poorly funded public schools are to continue with the four working days policy, it means their counterpart in the private sector and others states will move far ahead of them. This is a sad development.  I have learnt that the state government wants to adjust the closing working hours to augment the lost day. While the move may temporarily address the raised concern, psychologically increasing working hours will have a negative impact on both the tutors and their students. They will be exposed to stress. In addition, the state may incur a financial burden. The government has to source or cough up millions of naira to pay overtime allowances.

My concern about the policy is that, unless it is quickly reversed, the education sector, which have multiplier effects would suffer greatly. One recalls, since the administration of Governor  El-Rufai came on board, various policies are being pursued to transform the education sector in the state. In 2017, a competency test was conducted for the primary school teachers leading to the sacking of over 27,000 believed to have failed the test. The state government moved and hired teachers to replace the sacked ones. Though the state government is said to have recruited teachers, available statistics or record has indicated that there is still a shortage of teachers across the state. While the state is struggling with this glaring problem, comes the four-day working policy.

One expected Governor Nasiru El-Rufai to have consulted widely before coming up with the policy. The policy lacks the support of the Kaduna State people and in their interest should be quickly discarded.

Ibrahim Mustapha Pambegua, Kaduna State