By Nathan Nwakamma
Yenagoa – The Bayelsa Government has pledged to augment the funding of primary school education to end ongoing strike by teachers in the state.
Mr Martins Fefegha, outgoing Commissioner for Education, announced the plan on Thursday at the handing over ceremony to the new Commissioner for Education, Mr Jonathan Obuebite, in Yenagoa.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that teachers in public primary schools in Bayelsa have been on strike for more than six weeks in the state.
Although the new academic session began in September, the teachers refused to go back to their duty posts in protest over alleged non payment of 10 months salary arrears.
Fefegha noted that the state government’s resolve to augment primary school funding which had been the constitutional responsibility of the local governments.
According to him, the state government’s decision follows the dwindling resources at the disposal of the local government councils.
He said that the state government observed that the current revenue profile of councils was not sufficient to pay primary school teachers leading to backlog of unpaid salaries.
Fefegha, now redeployed to Ministry of Mineral Resources in a minor cabinet reshuffle, handed over to Obuebite, who until the development was in charge of Information and Orientation.
Speaking at the brief ceremony, Obuebite said the state government had declared a state of emergency in the education sector and had injected about N55 billion in the sector since 2012.
According to him, the state government is determined to give more priority to the education sector.
He said that under his watch, the welfare of teachers and capacity building would receive adequate attention.
He also assured that the state government was poised to clear the backlog of salaries owed to primary school teachers in the state.