By Gabriel Chy Alonta
Angry reactions have greeted the recent approval of the extension of teachers’ service year from 60 to 65 years by the Anambra state government, with many questioning the rationale behind such policy. The state government approved the extension of the duration of service for teachers in the state to 65 with effect from January 17, 2019.
Critics of the policy argue that, instead of re-engaging retired teachers for another five years, government should have employed young teachers, who, according to them, are capable of bringing fresh perspectives into the profession.
Orient Education learnt that the approval came because of the spate of early retirements in the state’s post primary and primary teaching services which had depleted the number of experienced teachers in the state.
This is contained in a circular signed on January 23, 2019 by the Head of Service, Barr. Harry Udu in Awka.
According to the circular, the extension remains in accordance with the statutory provision of 35 years of service or 60 years for the computation of pension benefits. It further urged officers in charge of the Post Primary School Service Commission (PPSSC) and Anambra State Universal Basic Education Board (ASUBEB) to take necessary steps to notify all teachers of latest development.
Reacting, an inside source in Nigeria Union of Teachers, Anambra state chapter, said, “I reserve my comments because NUT at the national level and at the National Assembly are pursuing the case which has passed second reading during public hearing.
“Personally for me, it is not healthy. I prefer employment of young qualified education graduates roaming the streets with fresh brains while the old at 60 should retire. After all, at retirement on Salary Grade Level 15-17, two or more graduates can be recruited.
“Age affects intelligence, productivity and health. With the record of massive unemployment in the state and country at large, engaging fresh brains will be wiser”.
Another teacher, who plies her trade at Girls High School, Agulu, in Anaocha local government area of Anambra state, said that such initiative was not welcome, describing it as a ‘questionable move’.
The teacher who pleaded anonymity said what the state government would have done, was to employ younger teachers full of potential and ICT-compliant, instead of resorting to retired teachers in the name of experience.
“It is only when you give one opportunity that they can grow. If you fail to give the fresh teachers opportunity, how can they accumulate experience?
“Remember that most of these retired teachers falsify their ages, meaning that adding extra years to them may mean telling them that you want them to die on the job.
“However, some persons may hold sway with the state government, but I don’t think I share in their sentiments. Recall that, last year, the same government announced job openings for teachers. Why was that move stalled?” she queried.
Other teachers who spoke in separate interviews either kicked against the initiative or said it was a laudable project.
Contacted, the commissioner for Basic Education, Anambra state, Prof. Kate Azuka Omenugha, said the move was a step in the right direction, noting that it was worthy of praise and that the state governor, Chief Willie Obiano took that proactive step. She regretted that many experienced teachers retired at ripe age of 50 to 55, when they are supposed to still be in active service, pointing out that their replacement often pose a threat to the nation’s education.
According to the commissioner, “Such policy will help to stop retirement of teachers at the time they are still very useful and strong.
“For the past three years now, Anambra state has employed 60 teachers for technical subjects, who have retired, we have given them two years contract to still be in service in order to mentor the new intakes”.
On the claim that such policy would thwart the earlier advertisement for teachers, Omenugha said that it wouldn’t affect the proposed recruitment of teachers, noting that there was still need for teachers who will monitor the younger ones.
Describing the initiative as laudable, the commissioner said such development would also encourage mentorship in the profession, to raise people who can take over the baton of leadership.
Several calls put across to the Chairman of Post Primary and Secondary School Commission (PPSSC), Lady Joy Ulasi, to get her reaction were not picked and neither did she return the calls. It was the same with the chairman of Anambra State Universal Basic Education Board (ASUBEB), Chief Nzemeka Olisa.