The Parliament Diary

Kogi Gov’t gives assent to Teachers’ Retirement Age and Related Matters Bill 2022; approves 65 years retirement age amidst outrage as four teachers teach from JSS 1 to SS 3 in State

By Toffa Momoh

The Kogi Government has assented to the Retirement Age of Teachers and Related Matters Bill, 2022, passed by its lawmakers, thereby approving 65 years as the retirement age for teachers in the state.

The Speaker of Kogi State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Matthew Kolawale hinted that consequent upon the bill’s passage, teachers in the state would be eligible to retire at 65 or 40 years of pensionable service, whichever comes first.

He stated, “From the date of commencement of this law, teachers in Kogi shall not be subject to the Public Service Rule or any legislation that requires a person to retire from the public service at 60 years of age or after 35 years of service.”

Now, whether the Kogi State Government and its House of Assembly deserve an accolade or critique for the approval of 65 years as retirement age for teachers is a big question begging for an answer.

This is as findings have revealed that only four teaching staff are in GSS Agbaja.

Government Secondary School Agbaja under Lokoja Local Government area of Kogi State was established in 1975 when Kogi State was still under old Kwara.

The Parliament Dairy reports that the school, which has a huge landmass with infrastructures, is now a shadow of itself. The school infrastructure is currently in a dilapidated form as it has little or no government presence.

It was gathered that the environment of the school is not habitable for learning hence members of staff deployed to the school either for teaching or non-teaching fail to stay as they abscond to Lokoja, the Kogi State capital or go as far as working out their way out of the school for another place of work.

“Many Teachers have been posted to this community. Whenever they come here, see the community, they will run away. This has become a recurring trend. None of them is willing to stay. Virtually 98 percent of them will work their way back to Lokoja or prefer to work somewhere else.

“This has really affected the development of the Agbaja community educationally and many more. We have complained severally to the constituted authority, but it has all fallen on deaf ears,” an indigene of Agbaja Community, Adoga said.

The bad road network from Lokoja, the Kogi State Capital, to Agbaja is one of the biggest challenges why the school remains a living nightmare.

The Parliament Dairy gathered that from JSS 1 to SS3, Government Secondary School Agbaja has only four teaching staff and two non-teaching staff.

The Parliament Dairy went underground to get the monthly staff disposition of Government Secondary School Agbaja as issued by the Kogi State Science, technical education and teaching service Commission.

This confirmed our investigation that only four teaching staff are in the school. The four teaching staff are Mohammed Kasim Adoga, BA English Language employed on 1st March 1991 and is expected to retire on 1st march 2026 if the State Government had not  grant approval for 65 years retirement age. He currently teaches English in Government Secondary School Agbaja. Emmanuel Paul Ohiemi, Bachelor of Art English Language, appointed on January 1st 2009, expected to retire on 1st January 2044 and he also teaches English language based on what was written in their monthly disposition. Olushola Titilayo, NCE, appointed on January 1st 2009, expected to retire on 1st January 2044, teaches Biology.

Oshatemehin Samson Dare, NCE, appointed on January 1st 2009, expected to retire on 1st January 2044 teaches agricultural science in the school.

The two non-teaching staff are Abraham Juliana, SSCE, appointed on 5th March 2002, expected to retire on 5th March 2037 and she is the school storekeeper, while Yakubu Idris Babatunde, SSCE, appointed on 9th August, 1999, is expected to retire on 9th August 2034. He works in the school admin.

It was gathered that two of the teaching staff are in charge of English language from JSS1—SS3, while another teacher is in charge of Physics, Chemistry, Biology and many other subjects, which according to our investigation has contributed negatively to the performance of students from the school both in internal and external examination.

This newspaper authoritatively reports that over 50 students who sat for the 2022 West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination and National Examination Council, (NECO), took subjects in both science and art courses offered by GSS Abaja even as the school operates without functional laboratories for practicals.

The principal of Government Secondary School Agbaja, Mohammed Kasim Adoga confirmed media investigation that the school has just four teachers from JSS1 to SS3.

Explaining further, the Principal said, “It is only four teachers that are teaching all subjects from JSS 1 to SS3 in Government Secondary School Agbaja. That is the situation we find ourselves in, both science and art courses. It is not only peculiar with GSS Agbaja. There are other schools in Kogi State that have two or three teachers from JSS 1 to SS3. There was a time we asked for intervention.

“The truth is that if you ask teachers to cross to secondary school and teach and their salary is not forthcoming, it will be very difficult for them to come. In Kogi generally, there is a serious shortage of teachers. There was a time the Federal Government deployed Npower students to our school, unfortunately, from Lokoja, the office did it and they all went away”.

“The Government is just playing games with the future of these students. How on earth will four teachers be teaching a whole Secondary School from JSS 1 to SS3 both science and art courses? How will they cope? Let us assume that they are taking four subjects in each class, mathematically it is not realistic. Have the authorities considered the outcome of these students’ future? I am dreaming. This can’t be true,” he said.

The educationist, however, called on the government to do the needful as a bad foundation might destroy the future of the students graduating from Government Secondary School Agbaja.

Aside from the shortage of teachers in the school, the school structures are all in a dilapidated state.

The community is, however, appealing to the government to come to their aid as the standard of education in Agbaja has continued to fall on a daily basis due to the shortage of teachers, lack of infrastructure and other challenges confronting the growth of the school.

One Ibrahim from Agbaja community who was interviewed by this correspondent said: “The remaining building you are seeing now was done through community effort because it has been abandoned by the Government. We just have to intensify our efforts to see that our children do not sit at home. This school has graduated many prominent individuals.

“The current Director-General, Bureau of Public Procurement Kogi State graduated from this School. Treasurer Lokoja Local Government, DPN Lokoja Local Government, DLG Lokoja Local Government, to mention but a few are products of this school. They are all aware of the bad state of the school.”

All efforts by this correspondent to speak with the chairperson, Kogi State Science, Technical Education and Teaching Service Commission, Cecilia Cook, proved abortive as of the time of filing in this report. She neither picked her calls nor responded to text messages sent to her phone lines.

Meanwhile, the Kogi State Government had said it planned to employ 3,979 teachers across the State.

Kogi State Commissioner for Education, Honourable Wemi Jones, disclosed this to journalists  recently after a tour of education facilities at the newly constructed ultra modern GYB Model Science Secondary School, Adankolo in Lokoja.

He disclosed further that the model science schools are scattered across the State and when completed will be some of the legacy edifices of the Yahaya Bello administration.

But now, alas! The plan to employ 3,979 teachers across the State by the State Government has not been accomplished while it has approved 65 years as teachers retirement age.

Does Kogi State Government deserve accolade or critique? Should the State House of Assembly be rued or revered?

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