Parents, stakeholders want absentee principals, teachers heavily sanctioned
The country’s education system will continue to slide into deeper rot, if teachers and school heads who take delight in absenting themselves from classrooms without due authorisation are not heavily sanctioned.
These formed the kernel of responses from parents and stakeholders who praised the Ondo State government for urgently suspending a school principal for persistence absence from duty post school, and querying 20 teachers for the same offence.
According to them, if teachers and principals, who are supposed to serve as instructors and role models are not exemplary in their actions and inaction, a bleak future awaits the nation.
Last week, the Ondo State Teachers Service Commission suspended the Principal of Igbatoro High School, Olokuta, Akure, Mrs Bosede Adelusi, for persistently absenting herself from work for four days.
The commission, which was embarking on a monitoring and inspection tour of schools, also queried 20 other teachers for committing the same offence.
In a statement released by the commission after the exercise, its chairman, Francis Igbasan, who handed down the suspension order decried Mrs. Adelusi action, describing her attitude as “unpatriotic and unserious.”
The chairman added that the state government would no longer tolerate school managers’ frivolous attitude to duty, as the future of students, and by extension that of the country should not be toyed with.
He said the government was no longer interested in “occasional principals” who jeopardise its efforts at developing the educational sector considering its huge investment aimed at improving the sector.
He also frowned at a development, where only eight teachers out of the 28 teachers on the school’s nominal roll were present in the school at the time of the commission’s arrival.
Igbasan, who directed the 20 teachers to report to its office to further explain their absence from their duty posts, at Ute High School, Ute, commended the principal of the school, Sam-Edeki Ogun, for his commitment to duty, and facilitating a good learning and teaching environment in the school.
Commenting on the development, a private school owner who craved anonymity said that, “What the commission in Ondo State is just noticing is what has been going on in most public schools across the country. So, I am shocked that Ondo State government is just realising that.
“It is not only teachers that are into truancy and absenteeism. The truth of the matter is that most Nigerian workers are bound to do the same, or put up similar behaviour at their work places if they are not monitored by concerned authorities.”
The school proprietor maintained that if “the tempo of unscheduled visits is sustained, you will be amazed at the number of teachers and principals that would be caught in the web.”
For Ojuolape Ademola, a parent, “The mere fact that 20 out of 28 teachers absented themselves from school in a day sure speaks volumes of the sheer lack of leadership and gross indiscipline that is thriving in that school. Need I say that the conduct of the principal and teachers in that school will definitely translate into very poor quality teaching and learning?
She continued, “The inspectorate units of different education ministries in the country are supposed to be embarking on these unscheduled visits to schools at regular intervals. But in some cases, they do not have even have vehicles to take them around, and so just sit in their offices while the rot festers.
“If the government is serious about restoring excellence in the education sector, the inspectorate units of education ministries, as well as quality assurance departments must be strengthened to play their very vital roles else the sector will continue to deteriorate,” she stated.
For Uwakwe Nana, another parent, “Unscheduled visits remain one sure way of radically improving education outcomes especially at the local governments and states levels.
“However, I must be quick to point out that the respective governments should pay teachers their salaries as at when due because you cannot get total dedication and loyalty from an employee that you are defaulting in your obligations to him/her. You do not expect a teacher that you owe several months of salary arrears to stay put in the classroom and tell his family stories at the end of the month. If you don’t pay teachers, some of them would sell biscuits, sweets and groundnuts in classrooms, while the other would abandon classes to do things that would fetch them income.”