The Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) has described the neglect of Colleges of Education by the government as a dangerous trend in teacher education.
The union, through its President, Nuhu Ogirima, stated this at the formal declaration of a trade dispute with the Federal Government (FG) and some State Governments.
Addressing a world press conference, Ogirima said COEASU has made various efforts to get the government to resolve the lingering issues affecting the Colleges of Education to no avail, noting that the only option left for the union is to embark on industrial action.
“Letters were written to the government, as represented by the Federal Ministry of Education (FME) and the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment (FML&E), as well as the agencies under them with appropriate jurisdiction on the issues in contention. Given the nonchalant response from the MDAs, the Union wrote to the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, himself, for intervention,” Ogirima disclosed.
He said: “It is quite evident that the Union’s agitation is an existential struggle geared towards the revitalization of the COE system. As the main entity for the training of the teachers and managers of the foundation level of the nation’s education system, the sustained neglect of COEs portends a grave implication for the development of the entire educational system. So, the union hereby formally declares that all options are open for an industrial action against FGN and some notorious state governments. The public should take notice that the NEC shall reconvene shortly to unveil the series of measures that the union shall take towards bailing the COE system from the doldrums and further decadence inherent in the wanton neglect by government.”
On the question of infrastructure in Colleges of Education, the union leader remarked: “A Needs Assessment of the public Colleges of Education was conducted and a report made in 2014. The implication of the report impacts on all aspects of the infrastructure of public COEs. The initial cost implication of the exercise was over nine hundred billion naira. However, the current administration requested a review in 2017, which was done and the reviewed report, with the cost implication of N456bn was submitted to FGN in the first quarter of 2018. Quite sadly, the Union had to embark on another agitation in 2018 before a paltry N15bn was pledged as a palliative. Again, while the Union is aware that the late COS to Mr. President made spirited efforts to get the HMF and HME to come to terms on the source of payment in 2018, not a farthing has been released by FGN, and no further information has been provided on the critical issue, more than two years after the commitment was willingly made.
“There is no gain-saying the implication of the non-implementation of the Needs Assessment report on such infrastructures of the Colleges as the libraries, laboratories, micro-teaching multi-media workshops, students’ hostels, and other fast-deteriorating facilities of lecture halls to mention but a few. Suffices to state that is the reports had been implemented, and in conformity with requisite standard, perhaps the concern over the effectiveness of our infrastructure to withstand the COVID19 protocol would not have been the case. As we speak, most of the COEs have their Student Hostels in shambles, libraries, laboratories and micro-teaching multi-media workshops are devoid of the facilities for moot teaching, to mention just a few.”
The COEASU helmsman stressed the need for a review of the Establishment Act of Federal Colleges of Education. According to him, “The Act establishing the Federal Colleges of Education, which has been the springboard for those of the State colleges, is quite obsolete. Enacted in 1986, the law reflects the initial location of most of the Colleges as against their current States brought about by the creation of States over the years. Besides, the reality of the functions of the institutions belies the initial conception of their mandate. By implication, most of the services of these institutions could be conveniently termed illegal in the face of the law. Thus, the situation has made it imperative for a review of the Act to reflect such realities. So, with the agitation of the Union in 2018, there was an expeditious passage of the Bill by the 7th National Assembly. Sadly, it was not transmitted to Mr. President for assent.”