Teachers: Why their reward should start from earth

NUT faults ASUSS claim on Supreme Court judgment

By Funmilayo Adeyemi

Teachers worldwide play a critical role in the formation of the behaviour patterns and by extension, the future of young persons.

Therefore, the role of teachers goes beyond teaching. The teacher functions in different capacities including parenting, counseling, mentoring and being a role model.

Given their strategic position in the evolution of any society, it is expected that teachers should be well respected, adequately remunerated and comprehensively catered for.

However, many stakeholder and teachers themselves think that this has not been the case in many countries, including Nigeria.

They say that in many parts of the world, teachers are the most under paid, largely not respected and remain the lower rug welfare package for workers.

Not much has changed in spite of years of protests by Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT).

Some teachers participating in a march past at an event to commemorate World Teachers Day in Abuja

To promote the dignity of teachers and draw global attention to the professional hazards they face, UNESCO, in 1994, proclaimed Oct. 5 as World Teachers Day.

The date is significant because it was on this day in 1966 that a special intergovernmental meeting accepted the UNESCO recommendation on the Status of Teachers.

At a rally in Abuja to celebrate the 2022 edition of World Teachers Day, Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, said the Federal Government has rolled out a raft of measures to address the challenges of teaching and teachers.

Osinbajo said this partly informed the setting up of teachers database of teachers through the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) which has already registered 2, 108, 342 teachers and licensed 1,250,000 teachers countrywide.

“No society can grow beyond its educational attainment. One of the major differences between healthy, well-functioning and prosperous societies and poorer societies is education.

“We owe so much of our well-being as a nation to our educators at every level.

“We are fully implementing the professional teaching and teacher qualification framework standards that will invariably impact on education outcome and teacher performance at the pre-school, basic, secondary and tertiary levels,” Osinbajo told his audience.

To remedy the problem of poor remuneration of teacher, the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu said the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission has reviewed the wages package for teachers in basic and senior secondary schools.

“Implementation is awaiting conclusion of consultations with state governments and the National Assembly,” he said.

Adamu said that arrangements had also been concluded to commence the payment of stipends and scholarships to students in faculties; and colleges of education to boost enrolment.

“To mitigate the current dearth of qualified teachers in the school system, government has commenced the implementation of a teacher conversion programme with ICT training, starting with the Federal Civil Service.

“We are pleased to note that a number of states have also implemented the scheme”, Adamu said.

Teachers also face the problem of poor working condition and the NUT has called on different tiers of government to mitigate this obstacle.

The president of the union, Mr Titus Amba, said it was unfortunate that teachers had to work in dilapidated classroom, under trees and in some cases have to wade through flooded classrooms to teach.

“As well as lack of opportunities for quality training and continuing professional development, poor working conditions for teachers and lack of recognition of teachers’ professional status among others remain major challenges’, he said.

Yet to some other stakeholders, much progress will not be made if the quality of teachers is not addressed as immediately as possible.

One of such stakeholders is the private school operators who canvassed training and retraining of teachers to enhance their professionalism and service delivery.

“There will be no significant transformation in education without the strong input of teachers.

“Even in ordinary times, the quality of teaching that students receive is the most important driver of learning within an educational system.

“To ensure the required transformation in education, teachers will need to develop targeted and sequenced remedial learning plans.

“They need to strategise how to deliver these alongside the curriculum and learning”, said Chief Yomi Otubela, the National President, National Association of Proprietors of Private School (NAPPS).

To inspire teachers to contribute their best to molding the nation’s leaders of tomorrow, Ms Odinakachi Ahanonu, Policy Advisory, Civil Society Action Coalition on Education for All urged governments to provide various incentives for teachers.

“These incentives should be implemented before the present administration leaves office because the quality of children we have determines the quality of teachers,’ she said.

Before incentives, governments should ensure that no teacher is owed his or her legitimate salary and NUT is irked that many state government still owed teachers’ salaries.

According to NUT, this is not only demeaning but also a drawback to efforts to boost the quality and moral of teachers in Nigeria.

“A good number of state governors owe primary school teachers and secondary school salary arrears some state governments owe primary school teachers a backlog of salaries ranging from four to 18 months”, said Dr Mike Ike-Ene, NUT Secretary-General.

Mr Victor Adejo, a teacher, said it was unfortunate that many teachers that retired many years ago were yet to be paid their entitlements.

“The government should speed up the process of the implementation of 65years of retirement age and 40 years of service and back it up with the payment.

“Many retired teachers are still in service although their names have been removed from the payroll, government should come clear on the new retirement policy for teachers”, he said.

If we want our teachers to be motivated to produce quality future leaders, the society must find a way to reward them appropriately. Teachers must not continue to live in penury, they deserve something better” he said.

As Nigeria enters a new phase of development 62 years after independence it behoves relevant stakeholders to guarantee that teachers are motivated enough to contribute to nation building by chiseling out appropriate compensation for their efforts.

Funmilayo Adeyemi writes for the News Agency of Nigeria.

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