A Call for Education Summit: Advancing Educational Reform in Ebonyi

Education stakeholders in Ebonyi State are uniting their voices in a call for a summit to confront and resolve pressing issues in the sector. 

This follows a Town Hall Meeting by anticorruption crusader, Wadata Media and Advocacy Centre, WAMAC on the issue of  “TEACHER ABSENTEEISM IN EBONYI STATE’S PUBLIC SCHOOLS: ROLE OF COMMUNITIES IN ADDRESSING THE MENACE”

The programme, with the support of MacArthur Foundation, took place in Ebonyi State capital, Abakiliki on the 11th of May 2024.

How it affects the Students

For some students from Abakaliki High School and Urban Model Secondary School present at the Town Hall, the issue of teacher absenteeism is of great concern to them.

Vivian Nwokporo and Christian Amiara explained that when a teacher is not showing up for class at the basic education level, many children tend to lack engagement, and focus, thereby missing opportunities to learn.

This missed learning also has its long term consequences.

Issues Needing Attention

The theme for the discussion was based on investigative production by WAMAC’s partner radio station, Radio Nigeria, Unity FM 101.5, Abakiliki, which brought to the fore issues of teacher absenteeism in the state. 

Their co-produced program with WAMAC in local languages of lgbo and Pidgin – “Nnyopu” and “Eagle Eye”, investigated the recurring allegations of teacher absenteeism. A revealing clip from the program further exposed the severity of the issue.

Nnyopu visited two schools in Ishielu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State and the observations confirmed that some teachers do not go to school.

One of them is Community Junior Secondary School Nkalagu, which has a total of eighteen teachers but only three teachers were in the school at eleven o’clock in the morning.”

“A look at the time book reveals that five teachers had signed their names on the register but were not there alongside the Principal. “

“A further look at their attendance the previous days showed that the highest attendance they had recorded since the new term commenced on the 8th of January this year is nine teachers on a particular day but with an average attendance of five per day.”

The scenario was also reported to be similar to the situation at Community Junior Secondary School Umuhali, which has eight teachers but at the time Nnyopu visited only two teachers were in school.

Although a teacher explained that most of his colleagues had genuine reasons for their non-availability at the time, there were few who actually absent themselves from duty often, and without due process followed.

WAMAC Anticorruption Stand

Executive Director of WAMAC, Zubair Abdurra’uf Idris urged various communities to own the fight against corruption and demand for accountability.

“The task of fighting Corruption is not limited to anti-corruption bodies alone, civil societies as well as community organizations and individuals have greater role to play to minimize the cankerworm of corruption, either we do it or we perish.”

You Can Also Read: Cultural Accountability and Collective Responsibility Against Corruption

In the last five years, WAMAC with the support of McArthur Foundation has embarked on advocacy through investigative reporting and programmes on alleged corruption, accountability and the promotion of good governance in partnership with 12 radio stations across the six geo-political zones in Nigeria, in local languages. 

Idris, therefore, urged community leaders and Non-Governmental Organizations to cooperate with the journalists in the production of investigative reports on the fight against corruption.

“Community members and radio listeners will be engaged in anti-corruption dialogue and discourse to achieve maximum result. While communities are obliged to own the fight against corruption. Equally, we urge the public, journalists and CSOs to make use of the Freedom of Information Act which ensures participatory democracy, promotion of transparency and accountability in the affairs of government.”  WAMAC executive director said.

The Perspective of an Educationist

Greg Esheya, the guest lecturer at the Town Hall is the Head of Department, Educational Foundations, Ebonyi State College of Education, Ikwo.

Eshaya affirms that to nip absenteeism and other teacher-student related-ills in the system, education authorities in the state should effectively engage parents and community members to take ownership of the schools in their environments

“They can rally community and religious leaders, PTA bodies, youth and women organizations as watch-dogs and advocacy groups for best practices in our public schools.” 

 “PTA unions must be strengthened to play active roles in discipline among teachers and students. Old boys and girls of various schools must take greater interest in what happens in their alma mater to stem the tide of indiscipline among teachers and students.”

The educationist, however, said that overcrowded classrooms, lack of basic items such as text books, writing materials, desks, tables, “can be frustrating enough to cause absenteeism and tardiness”, and as such, improving the teaching environment and reward is necessary.

“Agencies of education and education supervisors should cultivate the habit of taking the needs of teachers into view during field supervision exercises. Merely checking lesson notes and attendance registers does not explain reasons for absenteeism.“ Esheya said


Critical stakeholders at the Town Hall include officials of Ebonyi State Basic and Tertiary Education, All Nigeria Conference of Principals of Secondary Schools, students, tertiary educations lecturers, local government chairmen, The Nigerian Police Force, the Media, Civil Society Organizations, Persons with Disabilities, Market Women Association, Community Based Organizations, and Faith Based Organizations

After presentations and discussions on the theme of the Town Hall Meeting, some resolutions were made to fast-track the Fight Against Corruption and promote Good Governance through Community Participation  

The Town Hall Meeting in Ebonyi State, described ‘Absenteeism of Teachers in Public Schools’ as a disaster and threat to education development in the state and called for empowerment of teachers through grants to boost their morale and enhance their productivity to teach in classrooms

Lack of effective supervision and monitoring of schools and teachers in Ebonyi state was also identified as reasons for absenteeism of teachers in classrooms and called on the State Universal Education Board and Secondary Education Board to improve mechanism for learning and stop corruption in the system. Many education authorities had talked about disciplinary actions such as stopping salaries and other entitlements of teachers for absenteeism, however, the WAMAC Town Hall participants jointly called for an Education Summit in Ebonyi State to have a comprehensive look and solution to the issues in the sector.

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