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C’River requires 20,000 teachers to address shortage in public schools, Commissioner

The Commissioner for Education in Cross River, Sen. Stephen Odey, says a minimum of 20,000 teachers are required to address the shortage of teaching staff in public schools across the state.

The Commissioner, who disclosed this during a press briefing in Calabar on Tuesday, said that the Sen. Bassey Otu-led administration had embarked on massive employment of teachers to bridge the gap.

He, however, noted that, owing to a paucity of funds, the employment would be carried out in phases.

The commissioner further noted that there were several ongoing reforms to revamp the education sector in the state.

Odey said, “We are determined to reform the sector holistically because we want to make Cross River a reference point in the education sector amongst a committee of states.

“There is already a memo before the governor for us to start with the employment of 6,000 teachers.

“We discovered that many schools, especially in rural areas, had only two teachers, and this is not how we intend to be the best in the country.

“The money the government paid as a fee for the West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) for students in the state will amount to nothing without teachers to teach them.

Odey disclosed that priority would be given to the employment of teachers in their catchment areas, as the state was not buoyant enough to pay peculiar allowances to teachers in rural areas.

Speaking on the payment of the WAEC fee, Odey dispelled the rumour that the 16,301 list was padded.

He said rather, the list was not exhaustive, as some schools that submitted late were not captured.

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“The only issue that arose from the list was that we found out that some names were duplicated during compilation, which brought the figure to about 16,287 students.

“Even at that, we had students from about 20 schools that were not included because of late submission; for instance, a particular school in Boki had over a thousand students not included.

“For the avoidance of doubt, those principals that were found not to have been diligent in their duty have been sanctioned.

“About 37 of them are in this category and are going to be demoted to the classrooms,” he said.

The Commissioner further said part of the reform is to ensure uniformity in the school system in the state as well as go after illegal schools.

On school uniformity, he said, “Upon resumption in office, I discovered that schools across the state, both public and private, operate different school calendars.

“We have been able to streamline this to a large extent and are still working to ensure all-around complaints across the state,” he explained.(NAN)

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