As the 2019/2020 academic session set to resume in Katsina state, the second Batch of S-Power teaching Corps are left without payment of their stipends. The Masari led administration is owing them for 5 months. An unfortunate development that placed untold hardships on the beneficiaries.
S-Power is a Social Investment Programme initiated by the administration of Governor Aminu Bello Masari. The aim of the programme is to address the problem of massive unemployment among the teeming graduates and at the same time reduce the acute shortage of teaching Staff in the state public owned schools. The inititive which is a copycat of the Federal Government’s Npower, is divided in to two batches. In the first Batch, five thousand NCE holders were recruited to teach in primary schools across the state on a monthly stipend of 20,000 Naira for a period of 2 years while in the second batch two thousand University graduates were engaged to teach in the secondary schools based on a monthly stipend of 25,000 Naira for a period of 24 months with effect from the day they assumed duties. Once accepted the offer, a candidate would be posted to any part of the Zonal Education Quality Assurance.
Partly because of the shortage of teaching staff, the S-Power Corps were overburden with excessive workloads even beyond their capacity in some cases. Some of them were made to teach a whole arm consisting of 9 classes with over hundred students each. In addition, other extra curricular responsibilities like Form or House Master would be assigned to them. In spite of this sacrifices, receiving their monthly stipend has now became a rocket science. The state government is owing them five months now.
The issue of payment has put them in a delicate situation. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to take care of oneself let alone to transport themselves to their various Place of Primary Assigments ( some were posted to a distant of over 20 kilometers). In this situation, how do the government wanted them to survive and deliver their best in the classroom? Its a well known fact that you can’t teach well with an empty stomach. Even more worrisome is the stories of those who prior to the introduction of S-Power were working in private schools or as casual staff. They left for S-Power and now they are facing challenges with payments. A double loss! Some of them have families to support.
While the state government is running from pillar to post making peace deal with arm bandits, they should know that neglecting S-Power Corps is capable of creating a new challenge to the society in the near future. Here are graduates who went through hell to acquire university degrees and refused to be criminals but remain law abiding citizens. Instead of the government to offer them permanent jobs or create an enabling environment for them to thrive, they end up with casual jobs in the guise of S-Power. They accepted it in good faith but what they get in return is government’s inability to keep it’s part of the deal, making them even more frustrated. In the unfortunate event that they turned in to criminals (God forbid) because of this negligence, the government must have itself to blame. That’s how we abandoned and frustrated good citizens. And when they became nuisance, we wonder why?
All the beneficiaries I conversed with told me they no longer see themselves as S-Power Corp members. From what I gathered almost all of them are planning to boycott their Place of Primary Assignments until their arrears is settled. If this allowed to happen, it will be a big blow to the schools who are battling with insufficient teaching staff and this may rubbishes the whole essence of the programme.
I am one of those that criticizes the recruitment of Batch ‘B’ S-Power Corps when the preparation for the 2019 general election is on top gear. We raised concerns over the sustainability of the programme and motive behind it’s introduction as a mere political tool by Governor Masari to sway voters sympathy for his second term bid rather than anything to do with reducing the number of unemployed graduates. Alas we are vindicated! By inference, the refusal to pay them proved that the Batch ‘B’ S-Power has been used as pawns and thrown in to the bins after the mission accomplished.
The level of frustration I see whenever I talked to some of the beneficiaries is frightening. I suggest that if the state government could not continue with the programme, instead of giving them false hope, it would be more honorable to terminate the appointments and pay them their outstandiding six months stipend. It’s their right not a favour. I think that Naira 125, 000 would be enough for many of them to start up some businesses.
An admittance of failure!
Another promise broke!