After several months of staff verification, the Cross River State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) has announced that there are over seven hundred (700) teachers with fake certificates on her payroll.
The Board Chairman, Dr. Stephen Odey further disclosed that various tertiary institutions across the country were contacted to verify the certificates and it was confirmed that the papers were forged.
To cap it all, the SUBEB Chairman announced that the Governor, Senator Professor Ben Ayade has in his “magnanimity” directed that the affected teachers should not be dismissed. Rather, they should be demoted and given a chance to properly acquire “genuine” certificates.
Curiously, in his reaction, the State Chairman of Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) Comrade Eyo-Nsa Itam reportedly commended the Board’s decision and thanked the State Governor for not “removing food from the tables of many families”. He applauded the Governor for being a “caring father.”
This reaction from the NUT is, to say the least, very disturbing. And it is unfortunate.
Is the NUT there just to protect her members? What happens to the Basic Education system? Does the NUT place any value on the children who are the prime focus of the UBE program? Are there any mechanisms put in place by the union to effect Quality Assurance in teaching and learning?
It is disheartening that the NUT will support a State policy that will further erode standards at the very foundation level of the Education sub-sector.
A lot of matters arise on this issue of “fake” teachers.
In the first place, these people forged the papers used for employment. The implication is that they took this path of dishonor because they were unfit to pass the examinations that should qualify them as teachers.
This leaves us with the serious issue of quackery in the teaching profession. As it is, the teaching profession which should attract the best brains in the land is still being thrown open to all manner of persons, in spite of the existence of the Teachers Registration Council (TRC).
Secondly, it is fraudulent for anyone to forge a certificate. This is a criminal offence. By the continued retention of this category of teachers in her employ, what signal is the government of Cross River State sending to the civilized world?
On what moral grounds will these teachers stand to mould the characters of the tender kids entrusted to their care?
During the early days of Education in this clime, the Missionaries insisted on the integrity and characters of those engaged to function in their schools as teachers.
With policies such as this, how will Cross River State ever get out of the present malaise of examination malpractice, cultism, kidnapping, and general insecurity?
Nandi Bette writes from Ikom in Central Cross River State