Parents in the FCT have called on the FCT Minister, area council chairmen and the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) to reach a workable agreement to enable their children resume school.
Some of the affected parents, who spoke in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Kuje, Gwagwalada, Abaji and Kwali area councils said the strike was having negative impact on their children and appealed for a speedy resolution.
NAN recalls that for over two weeks, the primary school teachers have embarked on an indefinite strike over failure by the area councils’ chairmen to reach agreements with the union.
The State Chairman of the FCT Wing of the NUT, Stephen Knabayi, after an emergency executive council meeting recently at the Teachers House in Gwagwalada, said the action would continue until their demands were met.
Mr Knabayi said the union observed with dismay the non-compliance by the area councils’ chairmen to abide by the agreement for the payment of the backlog of the Local Education Authority (LEA) teachers outstanding entitlements in their various councils.
He affirmed that the union had directed all primary school teachers in the territory to stay away from their duty posts, while parents were advised to keep their children and wards safe at home.
“Each time the chairmen of the area councils were reminded of a scheduled meeting with the union, the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) would plead for more time.”
He said the meetings fixed for January 13 and 21, both failed, due to the refusal of the area council chairmen to meet with the NUT leaders.
The Executive Chairman FCT, Universal Basic Education Board, Alhassan Sule at a news conference recently, also said the area council chairmen should be blamed for the strike.
He said the FCT administration had been doing its best for the teachers, in terms of salaries, arrears and welfare, but was surprised to see that the teachers were embarking on strike.
Mr Sule also commended the Chairman of the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), Abdullahi Candido, and its NUT branch, for reaching a workable written agreement, which led to the suspension of the strike in AMAC.
He also encouraged other area council chairmen to reach an agreement with teachers and honour every pact signed with teachers so that the strike could be suspended for pupils to resume classes.
However, Naomi Bulus, a parent in Gwagwalada Area Council said the strike had made her children “shift focus to other things that was costing her additional funds that she did not budget for”.
“One thing I have learnt is that after each episode of strike, the children are no more focused, even when they resume because they have been out for so long.
“Parents who cannot engage their wards in extra lessons suffer distress and heartaches because of the nuisance the children constitute at home.
“My only pain is that the people in government are not feeling it because their own children are not in public schools but abroad or in private schools,” she said.
A parent in Abaji Area Council, Sani Usman, said their appeal was for government to listen to the masses.
“If the senators can have sitting and sleeping allowances, then the builders of these characters should be considered; they are the teachers.
“The Federal Government should listen to the demands of the striking union so that our children can go back to school,” Mr Usman said.
Funmi Olushola, a parent in Kwali Area Council said her son was affected by the strike and pleaded that the FCT minister and chairmen “discuss the issues for the children to go back to school”.
“I am seriously appealing to the relevant authorities, on behalf of parents to end the strike and make education a top priority and save the sector from imminent collapse.
“The Federal Government must at all costs, meet the demands of the union to save the future of our children,” she said.
Abraham Gado, a parent in Kuje Area Council urged the government to make any sacrifice to improve the education sector and meet the union’s demands.
“They should also consider the parents who suffer to pay school fees for our children and should know that an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.
“Education must come first in all our plans and whatever it will take, the government should improve the welfare of the school teachers,” he said. (NAN)
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