Paul Osuyi, Asaba
About 208 principals in Delta State-owned secondary schools are billed to retire before the end of the year, thereby creating additional vacancies in the state civil service.
But our correspondent learnt that the development may lead to administrative crisis in some schools within the state’s education sector, as the state government seems not to be in hurry to fill the impending voids.
Addressing journalists on Monday in Asaba during the on going ministerial briefing, Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, Mr. Chiedu Ebie confirmed the huge number of retirement.
Ebie said the present administration came on board in 2015 and was confronted with an over bloated work force which it has been trying hard to stabilise.
Recall that last week, the Secretary to the State Government, Ovie Festus Agas said the various measures put in place to sanitise the civil service were yielding fruits as the work force has been reduced from over 65,000 to 45,000.
Ebie while responding to questions from newsmen confirmed that “208 principals are retiring this year. There is a large number of retirement. You must also appreciate what we met on ground in the civil service when we came on board in 2015.
“We met an over bloated work force. So we are working hard to stabilise the situation. And the state wage bill was over N7.5 billion monthly, and this was taking a huge toll on the state finances because of the recession. There is no point recruiting teachers when we have not finished dealing with the situation in terms of huge wage bill.
“But there is a stop gap measure. We are engaging ad-hoc approach which includes deploying teachers recruited from the Federal Government N-Power scheme; youth corps members and teachers from DESOPADEC,” Ebie explained.
On the issue of truancy, Ebie stated that the abolition of Edu Marshal has not increased the problem, insisting that the anti-truancy task-force was structurally defective.
Edu Marshal was initiated by the immediate past administration of Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan as a task-force to ensure that students and pupils are off the streets during school hours.
On achievements of the ministry since 2015, Ebie stated that the present administration places high premium on technical and vocation studies, noting that over N2.5 billion has been injected into the sub-sector to develop infrastructure, refurbish and supply equipment to the six technical colleges across the state.
He added that the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) recently granted full accreditation to the programmes offered in the colleges, and noted that as a result of the accreditation and infrastructure upgrade, enrollment into the colleges has increased astronomically.
According to him, the state has received a total of N7.8 billion as grants from the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and counterpart funds, explaining that the funds were used to construct/renovate 1,779 classrooms; provide 34,694 pupils’ desks and 7,354 teachers’ furniture; erect perimeter fencing and gatehouses for 81 schools; construct 79 solar powered boreholes; and construct 243 modern toilets.