From Mustapha Adamu, Kano
Minister of education, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, said one of his major objectives since taking over the helm of affairs in the ministry, is to make strike a history in tertiary institutions in Nigeria and prevent its future recurrence.
According to him, his commitment is to establish harmonious industrial relation between the ministry and academic unions of the institutions in order to resolve the prolonged differences leading to industrial action by the institutions.
Shekarau, who stated this during a media interactive session with working journalists in Kano yesterday, argued that teaching and learning should continue amidst ensuing disagreement between the government and academic unions of the institutions, stressing that shutting down schools during the crisis is a logjam to the progress of education system in the country.
According to him, the objective can be achieved, taking into consideration his ability to resolve the prolonged nationwide strike embarked upon by the union of polytechnic and colleges of education within 48 hours after his swearing in as the minister of education, adding that the ministry is closing rank with the unions and other stakeholders towards preventing future strikes.
” One of my major objectives in the ministry of education is to cultivate harmonious industrial relation in the ministry. My target is strike-free institutions. This can be achieved if you recall that within 48 hours after my swearing in, I was able to bring my friends in polytechnic and colleges of education back to class room. Since then, we have been engaging ourselves to prevent future occurrence. Strike is not a recent issue, it has been happening for a long period of time. Therefore, I will make it a history by God’s grace.” He said
” We invited the unions and told them that we agreed there are problems, but let’s sit down and solve them. I told them that my argument is that the lessons and teachings should continue amidst the disagreement, otherwise the education will fail. No matter the enormity of the problem, let’s lesson and teaching continue in the schools. Because teaching and learning is the education, if it stops, even for one minute, the education would fail. So I think, the situation where the unions and the government will feel different is over. We are one now”, he added.
The minister also revealed that his greatest agenda in the ministry is revitalising the image and dignity of teaching service in the country, stating that a programme tagged, the National Teachers Summit would be flagged-off in March, 2015.
According to him, the programme would involve the participation of all stakeholders, adding that it is not a one-day jamboree as the campaign would be sustained daily through print and broadcast media.
On improving quality of education in the country, Shekarau stated that the federal government had introduced a need assessment programme, where all the institutions were asked to present their needed projects to the ministry, adding that hefty amount of funds were subsequently disbursed to the institutions to enhance the nation’s educational fortune.