Excitement, disappointment as Oyo teachers end strike
All over the country, students and pupils are currently enjoying the third term holiday after the promotion exams have been concluded. It is also the season when students in their final year have their valedictory party as part of graduation celebration. However, in Oyo state, the feud between the state government and the labour union has altered the academic Calendar. For seven weeks , the entire public schools in the state were forced to shut down. Consequently, students in public schools could not prepare nor sit for the promotion examinations.
While announcing the peaceful resolution of the crisis between government and labour, the Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Professor Joseph Adeniyi Olowofela, said government had, in view of the seven weeks strike, decided to review the academic calendar for public schools in the state to enable schools complete the third term academic session.
Professor Olowofela, who lamented the cost of the review of the school Calender on the students, noted that it is in the interest of the student, some of whom took part in a protest against the alleged privatisation of schools by government.
He sympathized with the students and said the seven weeks for which schools were shut would be regained as academic activities would be on between now and Friday, 9th September, this year. Rather than the usual four weeks or there-about of vacation,the students in the state will have to spend just one week holiday in order to cover lost ground.
For teachers , who also form part of the state sizeable workforce, the period will also call for sacrifice since they will also have to spend more time teaching the students during the period which they too ought to have used to rest. According to the Oyo State President, All Nigeria conference of Principals of Public schools, Pastor Ranti Obafunsho, the idea by the state government is thoughtful.
He enjoined all teachers in the state public schools to adhere strictly to the new schedule and ensure that students and pupils’ academics do not suffer any further set back.
At the peak of the crisis that led to the disruption of the academic calendar in the state, the state government had spelt out terms for settlement, but these were not acceptable to the aggrieved labour. Many interest groups, including market women and traders associations, intervened and pleaded with the feuding parties to no avail.
Then, following the student mayhem of June 6, the government demanded a written apology from the students and their teachers
as a condition for settlement, while on the other hand, labour demanded for payment of six months salaries arrears owed the workers by the state government as a way out.
Subsequently, the parties met last Tuesday to set aside their differences and allow industrial harmony in the state. The highlight of the agreement reached between the state government and labour leaders culminating in the suspension of the over seven-week-old strike by workers include the payment of January and February 2016 salary arrears and pensions within the next two weeks in a staggered arrangement.
As the elated workers settle down to work, many were seen rejoicing and excited by the news of the planned payment of January and February salaries and pensions. Their excitement is understandable, given that they have endured non payment of salary since the beginning of the year.
But for the many teachers and students who will have to forfeit almost all the long vacation to recoup the time wasted by the long strike action, while their counterparts in the private schools enjoy the summer break, the feeling is far from anything near excitement.