NUT and parents are expressing reservations about the decision of some state governments to reduce the number of school days per week due to the removal of petrol subsidies, citing concerns about the high cost of living. They believe that such a move would ultimately be counterproductive.
The Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), represented by Dr. Mike Ene, the National Secretary, and the National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN), represented by Haruna Danjuma, the National President, have called on governments to explore alternative measures to alleviate the hardships faced by parents, teachers, and students in the face of rising living expenses.
The concerns arise from the recent decisions by the governments of Edo and Kwara states to reduce working days for civil servants to three, in response to the removal of petrol subsidies. While the Head of Service in Edo State, Anthony Okungbowa, claims that the reduced office workdays will not affect productivity and efficiency, doubts linger among educators and parents.
In Edo State, the Chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Mrs. Ozavize Salami, announced that the three-day work week would be implemented in basic and junior secondary schools starting from June 13. However, Dr. Mike Ene of NUT argues that virtual classes cannot fully replace physical classes, emphasizing the importance of the teacher-student relationship for effective learning. He points out the challenges faced by students and teachers in remote areas, such as limited internet connectivity and the cost of data.
Haruna Danjuma of NAPTAN shares similar concerns, emphasizing the difficulty for teachers to cover the syllabus within the reduced time frame. He also highlights the financial burden on parents who may struggle to provide computers or smartphones for their children to participate in virtual classes.
To address the concerns raised, Dr. Mike Ene suggests alternative means of supporting teachers, such as providing incentives and allowances for those working five days a week and financial support for data expenses for teachers conducting virtual classes. Meanwhile, Haruna Danjuma proposes the implementation of a special transport service for teachers and students to ease transportation costs.
In conclusion, the reduction in school days due to the removal of subsidies has raised concerns among teachers and parents regarding its impact on education. Alternative measures, such as providing incentives and allowances for teachers, as well as a dedicated transport service, could be considered to mitigate the challenges faced by educators, students, and parents during this time of increased living costs.