By Dotun Omolaja
The funding of primary education by local government governments will affect learning and teaching at the foundational level of education, the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) says on Thursday.
The National President of NUT, Mr Michael Olukoya, made the union’s view known at a news conference in Abuja on Thursday.
Olukoya said the union was not against local government autonomy but that the funding of primary education should not be the responsibility of local governments.
“Primary education, in particular, constitutes the foundational framework of the entire educational structure of a nation.
“As you are aware, the NUT owes it a duty to protect the interest and welfare of its members and contribute its quota to the growth and advancement of the education industry.
“It is on this premise that we want to sensitise relevant stakeholders and the general public on the danger inherent in the on-going agitation for local government autonomy as it affects the funding and management of primary education.
“Primary education requires proper funding and management.
“It is an incontrovertible fact that any structure erected on a weak and shaky foundation cannot stand; it will certainly collapse.
“It is distressingly painful that this all important stratum of our educational system has suffered untold neglect and underfunding without adequate motivation for teachers at this level of our educational system.
“It is the responsibility of the state government to fund and manage primary education,” he said.
Olukoya added that payment of primary school teachers’ salaries and allowances as well as retirement benefits would be too heavy for the local governments.
He said the union believed in ‘’the provisions of the 1999 Constitution which vests the onus of funding and management of primary education on states while the local governments participate.
“There is need to uphold same to save primary education from imminent collapse and thereby safeguard the future of our teeming youths.”