Two weeks after resumption of 2017 academic session, public primary schools in Bayelsa have remained under lock following a strike by Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) to demand payment of 10 months salary backlog.
Investigation by News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday indicate that the primary schools across the state’s eight local government areas have remained shut in compliance with the directive of the local government chapter executives of the NUT.
Mr Kalama Toinpre, Bayelsa Chairman of NUT, told a NAN that the strike was being spearheaded by the local government executives of the union whose members were suffering from the gross under funding of the primary school system by the local councils.
He explained that there was wide disparity in terms of salary payment between primary school teachers and their secondary school counterparts in the state adding that the strike was aimed at closing the gap.
According to him, the teachers are protesting prolonged neglect by the Bayelsa government under Gov Seriake Dickson, adding that previous administrations had augmented the funding of primary schools.
Teachers in the state have engaged in intermittent strikes since 2013 over issues of non-payment of salaries and under-funding of primary education, among other concerns
The NUT chapter executives in the LGAs decided on the indefinite stay-at-home action at separate meetings on Sept. 14 in conjunction with other non-academic labour unions in the schools.
They complained that primary school teachers had been unfairly treated since 2013.
Mr Koin Dinepre, Chairman of the NUT in Kolokuma/Opokuma LGA, said the teachers would stay at home until the salaries were cleared and the issue of funding of primary schools addressed.
According to him, the payment of only one month salary out of 10 months arrears owed the teachers, would not compel them to call off the strike.
The Commissioner for Education, Mr Markson Fefegha, and his counterpart in Local Government Administration, Dr Agatha Goma, have in separate reactions maintained that primary education was a constitutional responsibility of the local governments.
The commissioners insisted that local government councils, and not the state government, have the responsibility to cater for primary school teachers and primary education.
However, the unions insist that the local governments lacked the financial muscle to shoulder the responsibility of funding primary education. (NAN)