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From: Tony Osauzo, Benin-City
Level 16 Secondary School teachers in Edo State, on Thursday, boycotted the Competency Test conducted by the Administrative College of Nigeria (ASCON) for Civil Servants in the state.
It was gathered that about 900 teachers and other civil servants, in various ministries of the state, were expected to participate in the examinations, but only about 200 were present at the examination hall.
It was ghartered that while some of them had assembled for the test, the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Secondary School Teachers reportedly chased them away.
The Placards-carrying teachers, in their numbers, had gathered outside the Imaguero College along Sapele Road, venue of the examination, to protest the state government’s decision to conduct the examination.
“To become Permanent Secretary is not by force”, “No training, no exams”, “This is an evil game”, “Let the sun first shine out the already selected”, “Train is to be competent if you think otherwise”, “There are better ways to make workers productive”, “Our neck cannot be used to test your new trap”, some of the inscriptions read.
Speaking to journalists, some of the teachers described the explanation by the state government that the test was for promotion to the position of a Permanent Secretary as a “booby trap” for them.
In his comment, Secretary of the Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools (ASUSS) Mr. John Omon Isibor, said the title ‘Invitation to write Competency Test’ of the letter inviting them for the examination made them worry about the true intention of the state government, adding that competency test was meant for new job seekers and not for old workers about to retire from service.
“We know the implication of competency test. We suspect government has a hidden agenda.
“A test is to make sure you are competent. For them to make teachers write the test is to flout the court order that gave an injunction during Oshiomhole stopping the state government from conducting competency test for teachers.
“All secondary school teachers on level 16 were called to collect the letter. We are here to see the level of compliance. The teachers writing the examination now are those that want to become Permanent Secretaries”, Isibor said.
Some teachers were however said to have shunned directives of ASUSS and participated in the examination.
Meanwhile, Governor Godwin Obaseki, who spoke to journalists after monitoring the examinations, said it was not compulsory for the teachers.
The Governor, while saying that it was unfortunate that many teachers failed to understand reason behind the examinations, ruled out any promotion for those who did no participate in the examination.
“It is not competency test. It is part of strengthening the civil service. The test is part of promotion exercise. They are already competent and that is why they are working and in the service.
“What we want to do is to see which area they need to be strengthened. The first one we had was for level 16 and 17. From that examination, soem were very good and we used them to fill exiting vacancies of Directors and Permanent Secretaries.
“The test will be used to help us understand the kind of training and the kind of competency we need to build in certain areas of those that are not strong.
“We are not sacking anybody. We want civil servant to deliver services. It is not compulsory. If you want to be promoted you can write and if you don’t be promoted, sit back, don’t write. If you haven’t don’t the test, there would be no basis to promote you.
“In the last exercise, two teachers were promoted to Permanent Secretaries. We are giving everybody opportunity to excel”, Obaseki explained.