Lagos - Public primary and secondary schools in Lagos State could not resume for the new academic session on Monday because of a teachers’ strike.
The state chapter of Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) on Thursday declared an indefinite strike starting from Monday following the failure of government to pay them the 27.5 per cent Teachers Peculiar Allowance.
Some of the schools visited by the News Agency of Nigeria ( NAN) include Zumratul Isamiyya Senior High School, Yaba, Surulere Girls’ junior and senior schools, Jibowu, Biney Memorial Primary School as well as Anglican Primary School, Jibowu.
Others are Holy Trinity and Anglican primary schools, Ikorodu, Iponri Estate Junior and Senior School, Iponri, Ola-Olu Primary School, Shomolu, and Shyllon Primary School, Ilupeju.
NAN also visited Oriwu Model College and Igbogbo High School both in Ikorodu and Ransome Kuti Memorial Junior and Senior Grammar schools, Jibowu.
A NAN investigation revealed that in most schools, teachers were not available, while students played games, such as football.
Mrs Daisy Afolabi, Vice-Principal, (Administration), Ransome Kuti Memorial Senior Grammar School, told NAN that the NUT strike marred the resumption of the school.
Afolabi said that although the turnout of teachers was very low, the students were later sent home as directed by the union.
"Our school has resumed for the 2012/2013 academic session, but the teachers' strike has hindered our activities.
"Government, in the interest of the students, should pay the teachers the TSS allowance because it is their entitlement.
"We, teachers, have children in schools too and we need to pay school fees, this allowance will go a long way in assisting us with our responsibilities.
"Everything in the market is expensive, from transportation to foodstuffs, school fees, books, virtually everything has increased," she said.
Afolabi urged the state government to intervene so that the situation would not affect the school calendar.
Mrs Obioma Ikube, Principal, Iponri Estate Junior Secondary School, said that the school had resumed with cleaning of the premises by students and teachers.
Ikube said that the turnout was high and impressive as all teachers and students resumed in high spirits.
"All our teachers resumed today and their turnout was impressive. Our students are still in school because we have not seen the union members to direct them to go home.
"I urge the government and the union to find a lasting solution to the strike," she said.
A teacher at Ayangburen High School, Ikorodu who pleaded anonymity, said that teachers were only following instructions.
The teacher said that they came to send the students home.
"We were instructed not to resume today, but we are only present here just to explain the situation of things to students that turn up.
"We have told the students to listen to the radio and watch television in order to get the update on when to resume," he said.
Some of the students, who spoke to NAN, condemned the strike, adding that they were eager to resume for the new session after the long vacation.
Miss Tosin Fashola, an SSS I student of Surulere Senior Secondary School, said that members of the NUT came to drive them out of the school premises.
"I am appealing to the state governor to see to the demands of the teachers because of our education, we don’t want to stay at home anymore," she said
Miss Temitope Ojo, JSS III student of Ayangbure High School said that she was not pleased with the strike and urged the government to yield to the demands of the teachers in the interest of the students.
"I am not happy with the strike because many of us are tired of sitting at home without doing anything," she said.
Meanwhile, Lagos State Government said that the negotiation with the union was still in progress.
The spokesperson of the Ministry of Education, Mr Lanre Bajulaye, said government was not aware of the strike.
Bajulaye added that the union has no right to send students out of the school, saying that the action was illegal.