By Ibrahim Akawu

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The current screening of local government employees undertaken by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Niger state chapter, is disrupting and undermining learning and teaching activities in public primary schools.

A pressure group, High Level Women Advocates, made the observation when the group paid a courtesy visit to the Speaker of Niger State House of Assembly.

The group said the screening has affected and prevented the payment of salaries of primary school teachers in local governments, prevented teachers from concentrating on their pupils and has killed their morale, thus negatively affecting teaching and learning.

The group observed that for the past five months, primary school teachers have been subjected to various forms of screening, with their salaries with held thereby forcing them to abandon the classrooms for other sources of livelihood.

They said screening or verification exercises should not deny teachers their salaries as there was no reason to do so, thus urging the speaker to intervene to save the The leader of the group, Haj. Hajara B. Adamu, who led other members, said the group was an association of women of like-minds who have attained a high pinnacle in public life and agreed to serve as role models and campaigners for the promotion of girl child education in Niger State.

She said the group’s mandate was to create an enabling environment for the girl child to realise her potentials, rise to actualize her dreams and contribute through collaboration with government and nongovernmental organisations to the upliftment of the rights of the girl child.

She said five states: Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara and Niger, all in the north were said to be the most backward in terms of girl child education, a situation which she said was not only worrysome but shameful.

Hajara Adamu said this prompted them to come together in 2013 to collaborate with relevant bodies to reverse the trend in the state. She said among them were serving and retired permanent secretaries, directors and rights campaigners, with the wife of the governor of Niger State as patron.

She said in carrying out this assignment, the group paid advocacy visits to emirs and traditional rulers to plead with them to take steps to prevent their subjects from withdrawing girls from schools for marriage. She said the ugly event is still prevailing in communities across Niger State.

She appealed to the legislators to, as part of their contribution; sponsor at least five female students in their constituencies to help them achieve their educational needs.

She lamented the growing cases of rape and urged the speaker to help enact laws that will ascribe the gravest of punishments for rapists.

The group also in their presentation, appealed to the speaker to look into the problems of non engagement of teachers in the female teaching service, a special programme aimed at training female teachers who will in turn serve in their respective communities and provide a special education needs for female students.

Responding, the speaker of the house, Hon. Ahmed Marafa Guni said government was making provision for free education for the girl child in next year’s budget. “We will ensure a free education for the girls in next budget,” he said.

He said the demands of the group would be looked into. He encouraged them to continue with the good work they started especially that as role models and people who have seen it all, their struggle will see the light of the day.

The speaker said recently the house has passed a bill that has prescribed severe punishment for rapists and kidnappers, saying that the 8th assembly would continue to be on the side of the people no matter the circumstances.

He said girl child education was at the uppermost scale of the house preferences and will do everything possible to protect and promote the rights and interests of the girl child.

He thanked the women for their resilience, assuring them that the house will always be available to support them and they should be free to contact the leadership anytime they wished.

He advised the group to articulate what they want in a paper and present it so that the house will formally do the needful.

 

TAURARUWA