Nigerian Teachers to Strike against Compulsory Teaching Tests
A previous Demonstration by Nigerian Teachers
Teachers in the Ekiti state of Nigeria are to strike this week over the imposition of tests
The teachers, who are members of the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) say that the tests - called the Teachers Development Needs Assessment (TDNA) are designed to 'ridicule teachers and meant to either sack of demote them.' The government insists that the tests are designed to improved their teaching, but the teachers say if that is the case they should be given training and also asked what they need to improve their teaching, not be forced to take tests the outcome of which is at best unclear. When civil servants were put through similar exams, few passed and many were retired or demoted. The teachers say they have not even been told what they will be tested on.
The teachers' action is being supported by the Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools (ASUSS) as well as the NUT. Wale Oneyiyi, deputy general secretary of the NUT, told the Tribune: “Bring promotion examinations and we will do it. But this TDNA is beyond our understanding and we do not know why government is veiling it with ‘developing our capacity'. If they want to build our capacity, they should train us or send us to workshops and seminars.”
The TDNA sounds typical of the neo-liberal policy of demonising teachers and forcing change on them, instead of treating them as respected professionals. Teachers in Nigeria are paid at little more than the minimum wage of $100 a month and are some of the worst paid public servants. Not only that but, class sizes can be as big as 150 and conditions in schools are often grossly inadequate. Moreover, teachers have frequently had to resort to strike action because they have not been paid at all.
Under these conditions, the government should concentrate on paying teachers properly and improving working conditions instead of laying the blame for the inadequacy of the public education system at the door of teachers by putting them through humiliating tests.